Should Geithner go, too?

posted at 9:59 am on February 4, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

(Michael Ramirez, IBD)

Now that Tom Daschle and Nancy Killefer have withdrawn from their Obama administration appointments, should Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner follow them out the door?  After all, Obama admitted that he made “a mistake” in appointing tax cheats to high public offices, saying, “I don’t want to send a message to the American people that there are two sets of standards, one for powerful people and one for ordinary folks who are working every day and paying their taxes.”  But doesn’t the continuing presence of Geithner show exactly that double standard?

National Review believes it does, and points out that Geithner’s violations were the most egregious of the three — and that having him run the IRS provides a new low in government hypocrisy:

Daschle’s negligence was gross, particularly for a party and an administration that have celebrated prostration before the taxman as a “patriotic duty.” But Daschle’s offenses, galling as they may be, are exceeded by those of Geithner. Indeed, of all the tax transgressions touching Obama’s circle, Geithner’s are the worst.

Not only did Geithner neglect to pay his taxes, he turned a buck by doing so—accepting payments from his employer for the very purpose of offsetting those taxes. When he took the money, he signed a statement promising to pay the taxes and then ignored his obligations—for years. Protected by a statute of limitations, he did not pay his 2001–02 taxes until his nomination made them a public issue.

If Daschle’s tax problems should bar him from managing the federal health-services bureaucracy and Killefer’s preclude her from scrutinizing the budget, how is it that Geithner’s transgressions—the worst of the lot—are insufficient to disqualify him from managing the same Internal Revenue Service whose attentions he evaded?

Obama erred in making his apology too expansive, as the double standard argument applies most to Geithner.  After all, neither Daschle nor Killefer would collect taxes from Americans, as Geithner will do, with the IRS reporting to him as Treasury Secretary.  Geithner’s presence will affront Americans who endure audits over the next few years and get adjudicated to their detriment.

Will Obama backtrack on Geithner?  Absent a huge push from the Senate and the media, I’d doubt it.  He’s been confirmed by a too-compliant Democratic majority, with the assistance of some spineless Republicans to boot.  Obama will hang onto Geithner, hoping that the storm over Daschle and Killefer will soon die out, and hope that his vetting team does a better job on the next round of appointees to second-tier positions.

That’s too bad, because it’s bad for America to have tax cheats occupying high positions, especially at Treasury.  Obama and the Senate kept saying that only one man could possibly be Treasury Secretary, but Obama has a perfectly good replacement on his team already in Lawrence Summers.  We know he can do the job because he has already served as Treasury Secretary under Bill Clinton.  The only reason Summers won’t get the job is because of his misconstrued comments over gender and math education while at Harvard, which seems much less egregious and much less disqualifying than cheating on taxes … except, I guess, in the Era of Hope and ChangeTM.

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Ernesto. There is absolutely nothing in common with deciding to go into war and cheating on personal taxes.

One is done for national defense (whether mistakenly or not); the other is done for personal financial gain.

Alana on February 4, 2009 at 1:45 PM


My question, did Geithner also pay his STATE Taxes he would have owed as well?

Because if I get this correct… he was “reimbursed” by the IMF for the taxes he didn’t pay… and since he never paid them in the first place, its both fraud, and becomes INCOME… which the State could then tax.

Romeo13 on February 4, 2009 at 1:56 PM

Will Obama backtrack on Geithner? Absent a huge push from the Senate and the media, I’d doubt it.

Exactly, which shows the truth of the matter. In Obama’s mind he didn’t screw up by nominating a tax cheat; he screwed up by nominated a guy who wasn’t going to get confirmed.

PackerBronco on February 4, 2009 at 1:59 PM

Hell yea he needs to go! Is there something written somewhere that says you have to owe taxes to be in the Obama administration?

Eyvonne on February 4, 2009 at 4:26 PM

He should go right now. The longer he is kept on the bigger the distraction he becomes. It’s tax season. Since the Dems don’t pay taxes they aren’t smart enough to understand the “seriousness of the charge”. It should fester some more and he will probably step down.
I have been writing constantly to my Senators about the votes they have been giving to these appointees. Even Hillary. She isn’t capable either. None of these folks have any credibility and as I told my Senators they should be thinking about special prosecutors for all of the appointees so far. More tax money for these guys to “lawyer up”. Sad for our country.

BetseyRoss on February 4, 2009 at 4:44 PM

Tax cheat to head the Treasury? YES, WE CAN.

chunderroad on February 4, 2009 at 4:54 PM

Should Geithner go, too?

Um…in a word… YES!!!!!

ladyingray on February 4, 2009 at 6:04 PM

The funny thing is, Obama just might wind up with a cabinet full of Republicans.

Since apparently Democrats never pay taxes.

tom on February 4, 2009 at 6:33 PM

“Should Geithner go, too?”

NO MORE QUESTIONS, ED! Make up your mind before you write the piece. Every post by Ed Morrissey has a question mark in it. This is yet another reason why conservatives are sucking so much lately. Don’t postulate. Pontificate. Man up. You know what’s right. Just say it.

Here’s an alternate title to your piece:

Geitner Should Also Go

See? It’s not hard. Just be direct. No more question marks, Ed.

Kevin M on February 4, 2009 at 8:46 PM


RalphyBoy on February 4, 2009 at 9:37 PM

Tim Geithner
If he had any personal integrity, a shred of honesty he would have disqualified himself.

True, If he had any personal integrity, a shred of honesty, he wouldn’t be in trouble like this.

DSchoen on February 5, 2009 at 7:55 PM


Its not about removing saddam so much as its about when we did it. The decision it do it in 2003, while we were already in the middle of a just war, was inadvisable at best. Regardless of the fact that any and all prior justification was found null and void, couldn’t we have waited until we had done a better job in taliban country?

Given that Iraqi nuclear weapons scientists were building nuclear bombs in Libya in 2003, close to finishing at least two of them (w/one reserved for Saddam) by mid-2004, with more on the way – and the program was only disclosed + halted by Libya because of pressure brought about by the Iraq war (by Gaddafi’s own admission) – when were you planning on holding the invasion?

After we had done a better job in Taliban country, you say? When was that? (Like, say, 2008?)

That would have been four years after Saddam went nuclear.

Next topic:

Given that reasoning, why haven’t we invaded russia to find those missing suitcase bombs?

ernesto on February 4, 2009 at 11:55 AM

First: Do you not know the difference between facts and reasoning?

Second: Do you not understand that Iraq was under obligation to disclose their WMD information, while Russia was not?

RD on February 5, 2009 at 8:40 PM

Should Geithner go, too?

Yes, but not until the general public has had a chance to rough him up a bit first (metaphorically speaking). Then he should go.

(What are public officials there for, after all, except our own amusement?)

RD on February 5, 2009 at 8:47 PM