ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Geithner and the US Treasury

I read this article in the WSJ and laughed out loud:


JANUARY 21, 2009, 2:44 P.M. ET

Geithner Apologizes Over Taxes
Treasury Nominee Supports Bold Government Action to Stimulate Economy
By BRIAN BLACKSTONE and MARTIN VAUGHAN

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Treasury Secretary nominee Timothy Geithner apologized Wednesday to members of the Senate Finance Committee for tax errors he committed earlier this decade that came to light during his nomination process.

"These were careless mistakes. They were avoidable mistakes, but they were unintentional," Mr. Geithner said. "I should have been more careful."

"I want to apologize to the committee for putting you in the position of having to spend so much time on these issues, when there are so many pressing issues facing the economy," he added.

Under questioning from lawmakers, Mr. Geithner said he initially failed to remit payroll taxes for his income from the International Monetary Fund in 2001, when he changed jobs twice during the year. That means Mr. Geithner had three sources of income: from the Treasury Department, from the Council on Foreign Relations, and from the IMF.

"When I made that initial mistake, and I failed to correct it initially, I repeated it, even when a tax preparer prepared my returns," Mr. Geithner said.

He said he used Intuit Inc.'s TurboTax program to prepare his return in 2001, and said he didn't recall the software prompting him for payroll taxes owed on his IMF income. But Mr. Geithner said the mistakes were his own, not the fault of the software.

Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, the committee's ranking Republican, called the errors "deeply problematic," and said they could have been corrected with "minor due diligence." In particular, he criticized Mr. Geithner for failing to amend his 2001 and 2002 returns, when an Internal Revenue Service audit uncovered the failure to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes on his 2003 and 2004 IMF income. IRS didn't demand payment for the earlier years because they were outside the three-year statute of limitations.

"The person ultimately responsible for tax policy must be credible on issues of tax reform and compliance," said Sen. Grassley.

Two things:
  1. He failed to pay taxes which he was compensated to pay... this isn't some guy who forgot to send in a check. This is a guy who forgot to send in a check that he had been paid to write.
  2. Instead of apologizing to the Committee, he should be apologizing to the American people. He's a tax cheat and is seeking the very office responsible for investigating tax cheats.
  3. Nothing instills confidence in the financial system more than someone who is too stupid to pay his taxes correctly. And Geithner is in a Catch-22 here. If he claims that he made a stupid mistake, then why would we let him run the US Treasury? If he's intelligent, then he must be a tax cheat who's willing to skirt the law - and commit perjury at the same time.
I just don't understand why the idiots in the Senate think that Geithner is our only savior in this economic crisis. There are plenty of qualified individuals... Sure, they're probably not in Obama's circle of comrades, but why must we turn a blind eye to such a ridiculous case of stupidity or outright tax fraud?

If Bush had nominated Geithner (with this same economic situation), he would not be confirmed.

*** UPDATE ***
It would seem that I am not the only one who's concerned about Tim Geithner.
[....]
Congress is "all in a panic" and "really clueless" about this all-important member of Obama's cabinet, says Christopher Whalen, managing director and co-founder of Institutional Risk Analytics. "I'm just not sure Tim Geithner is the guy we should have driving the bus."

Beyond his tax gaffe, which will mainly serve to politically weaken Obama's pick, Whalen says Geithner is the wrong many for the job because of his decision-making as President of the New York Fed.

"I believe Tim Geithner only represents part of Wall Street - Goldman Sachs," he says, suggesting Goldman was the "primary beneficiary of the AIG bailout" and notes Goldman alum Stephen Friedman serves on the board of the NY Fed. (Hank Paulson and Robert Rubin, with whom Geithner had frequent meetings in the past year, are also Goldman alum.)

Whalen further questions the inconsistency of the Fed's decision to rescue Bear Stearns - in the end, their debt and shareholders got something - while letting Lehman Brothers "go to hell."

In the end, Whalen says he'll fully support Geithner if and when he's confirmed: "We have to be successful," he says. "This is not about personality."


Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Goodbye George W. Bush - Good and Faithful Servant

This day can not pass without heartfelt thanks to former President George W. Bush for keeping us safe these last eight years.

You are a good man "W," and I for one will miss you.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC:MontereyJohn

Monday, January 19, 2009

Call Me Naive, but President Obama Strikes Me as a Thoroughly Decent Person - Decent but Wrong

Ever since Obama emerged from the pack in Iowa last year, I have liked the man. He has qualities that cannot, in my opinion, be faked. If he is faking those qualities, he is the most amazing actor I have ever seen. He has none of the transparent slickness of the odious Bill Clinton. He is real much like Reagan was real. I do not think we are going to see huge character flaws emerge in this man.

A friend of mine, a severely "progressive" Democrat, says of Obama that he is "all sizzle and no steak." Given Obama's talent for saying nothing wonderfully, my friend has a point. I think the reason for that is that Obama is still feeling his way through what should be done and what can be done to deal with some real problems the country is facing.

And that brings me to my second point, that though he is a decent man, the general outline of his plans for his administration are wrong, not bad or evil, just wrong. They could even be dangerously wrong. Placating our enemies sounds good if it would work, but I do not think it will. Spending trillions of dollars that we do not have to pull the economy out the tank sounds good but will likely only prolong the problems we face in delaying inevitable market corrections and leave us with a totally debased dollar. That and more give me pause for serious concern.

No, Obama is not a sleezoid like Reid, Pelosi or the race hucksters descrcibed in Desert Rat's column cross-posted below. But his New Deal / Appeasement attitudes and plans are wrong for this country, wrong for the world and wrong for all our futures, dangerously wrong. He has the votes in Congress for the most part. He is going to get his way.

So while I hope he is right, and will pray for his success, I am not holding my breath for signs of positive results.

And if, and likely when, he fails, we will be ready to do what is necessary to get on the right track

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: MontereyJohn

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Dream Betrayed

I am cross-posting this from my old friend Desert Rat's Blog, Right Face.

Not only is it well written, it is right on point.

I’m old enough that I remember Martin Luther King. I read about him in the newspapers. I saw him on television. I heard his “Dream” speech. I wept when he was murdered.
I have no patience for those who claim that America is just as racist as it was in years gone by. I remember those days. I remember federal troops in Little Rock. I remember Gov. George Wallace blocking the school door. I remember Sheriff “Bull” Conner and the fire hoses being turned on marchers in Birmingham. I remember the Freedom Riders. I remember separate drinking fountains and “white only” signs. I remember the fear. I remember the hate.

But mostly, I remember the sound of a Georgia preacher’s voice calling out. I remember him calling out, not just to his followers, but to his enemies as well. He told us that we were better men and women and that hate and fear shouldn’t divide us. He reminded is that we were all one people, regardless of skin color or religion. He didn’t defeat his enemies; he converted them.

That voice was heard. In 1964, the Civil Rights Act became the law of the land with the support of more than 80% of the Republicans in Congress and slightly more than 60% of the Democrats (among those opposing the measure were Klansman Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia and Al Gore’s late father who was a senator from Tennessee).

Those were heady days. Then the dream started to sour. Government programs aimed at aiding African Americans ended up causing mortal harm. The welfare structure effectively destroyed the black family. Other programs, such as affirmative action, conveyed the message to both African Americans and others that blacks were incapable of competing. Some claimed it was needed to fight vestiges of racism against minorities, while completely ignoring the success of Asian Americans, some of whom in modern times faced incarceration solely based on their ethnicity.

Whatever the intent, the effect was to make African Americans dependent upon government largess and intervention rather than encouraging their own genius.

What was perhaps even worse were Dr. King’s successors. They stood in the footsteps of a giant and were found wanting. His inheritors stood at the threshold of greatness … and stepped back.

Instead of following Dr. King’s message of inclusion, they preached a message of separation and divisiveness. Instead of finding strength in self and family, they found dependence upon the government.

Some of their leaders, specifically Jessie Jackson, Cynthia McKinney and Al Sharpton, have preached a strong message of anti-Semitism. Many leaders have refused to denounce or even distance themselves from such vile demagogues as Louis Farrakhan.

As a nation, we honor Martin Luther King. His spirit soars in the heavens with angels, while many of his successors slither in the mud with an entirely different creature.
Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC:MontereyJohn