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Did Geithner Make an Honest Mistake?

Tim Geithner, the current president of the New York Fed -- and President-elect Obama’s pick to head the Treasury Department -- graduated from Dartmouth College in 1983 and took a master’s degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in 1985. Many people with such credentials pursued megamillions in finance and industry. Geithner, however, did not. This was not because he lacked the ability. To the contrary, throughout his career, he has impressed people across the political spectrum with his competence and demeanor. Rather, it appears that he prefers to apply his expertise in international economics to public service, which is why, except for a stint at Kissinger Associates after graduate school, the vast majority of his career has been spent working in government or international organizations. He’s made good money at the Fed -- almost $400,000 in 2007 -- but that is a lot less than his peers on Wall Street were getting, and his salary would be cut more than half if he goes to Treasury.

That, to me, is the necessary background to the current flap over Geithner’s failure to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes while working for the International Monetary Fund between 2001 and 2004. To be sure, the amounts are not trivial: a total of $43,200. But Geithner coughed up back taxes and interest when an IRS audit discovered in 2006 that he owed money for 2003 and 2004. Apparently this is a pretty common error among U.S. employees of international organizations (whether it is witting or unwitting probably depends on the individual). Somewhat more troubling is the fact that Geithner had not yet paid back taxes he owed for 2001 and 2002 until President-elect Obama’s transition team spotted the issue. Geithner needs to clarify that point.

This is embarrassing for a man who has been tapped to run the department of which the IRS is a part. If Geithner had a different sort of career, I might see it as the possible tip of a venal iceberg. But given his relative indifference to self-enrichment, it looks like an honest mistake, for which he has now apologized and fully paid. Unless some new disclosure makes it much worse, I hope it won’t do more than delay his confirmation beyond next Wednesday. The country needs a full-time Treasury secretary, pronto. To all appearances, Geithner would be a capable one.

By Charles Lane  | January 14, 2009; 4:58 PM ET
Categories:  Lane  | Tags:  Charles Lane  
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Hasn't he heard of TurboTax?

Posted by: annew2 | January 14, 2009 5:32 PM | Report abuse

I am dealing on a daily basis with IRS' Revenue Agents and revenue Officer. If I would come with a story like this for one of my clients-they'll laugh at me (and at my client). And this is the guy who is going to be in charge of the IRS? Add to this the fact that Rep Rangler, chair of the finance committee made another "honest mistake" (actually he blamed his CPA) and you realiza that there are two sets of law-one for the "suckers" and one for the, what? Elite, Connected, or whatever name you give them. Until now the IRS used to call them crooks (and the name fits...). Will it change now? Will the IRS allow every one to make an "Honest Mistake"? Keeping this guy in charge of the IRS will signal to all taxpayer that standards have changed, compliance is relative, and the promised change in DC is no nore than Hot Air.

Posted by: Abew | January 14, 2009 5:35 PM | Report abuse

That's one interpretation. Alternatively, you could say that he sought government work for the reasons that plenty of other smart and talented people seek it: compared to the private sector, it offers job security, low pressure, and reasonable hours. It often offers prestige.

He didn't chase dollars, but he did chase the tangible and intangible benefits of government work. He might not be money-grubbing, but he very well might be bankers-hours-grubbing. In that case, I don't think that tells us anything about whether he'd deliberately not pay his taxes.

Posted by: wapo9 | January 14, 2009 5:35 PM | Report abuse

I'd have less of an objection if Geithner were appointed to Veterans' Affairs, Education, or Energy. But appointing a guy with IRS troubles to oversee the IRS is insane.

Posted by: wapo9 | January 14, 2009 5:39 PM | Report abuse

But Geithner coughed up back taxes and interest when an IRS audit discovered in 2006 that he owed money for 2003 and 2004.

And he's to be congratulated for this?

Apparently this is a pretty common error among U.S. employees of international organizations.

Oh, come. If it's common than I would think these organizations would be especially diligent about informing employees of the problem. In any event, Geithner was reimbursed by the IMF for his payroll taxes . . . what did he think this money was for?

(whether it is witting or unwitting probably depends on the individual).

Do you think?

Somewhat more troubling is the fact that Geithner had not yet paid back taxes he owed for 2001 and 2002 until President-elect Obama’s transition team spotted the issue. Geithner needs to clarify that point.

Somewhat more troubling? He had to have known after the IRS audit in 2006 for the 2003 and 2004 tax years that he had the same problem for his 2001 and 2002 returns. Yet he failed to act on this, meaning he must have believed he could get away without paying the earlier taxes.

Also, according to the Wall Street Journal:

"Other tax issues also surfaced during the vetting, including the fact Mr. Geithner used his child's time at overnight camps in 2001, 2004 and 2005 to calculate dependent-care tax deductions. Sleepaway camps don't qualify."

This is stuff he should have known or could easily have clarified through an accountant.

We might be able to understand these lapses in the case of an ordinary taxpayer. But not in the case of the New York fed chief and a person who is under consideration to head Treasury - and the IRS.

Your commentary seems to bend over backwards to look past these issues.

Posted by: JamesSCameron | January 14, 2009 5:41 PM | Report abuse

With those aforementioned credentials he knew what he was doing. This man should not be the next Treasury Secretary. His confirmation will, in my mind, do irreparable damage to Obama’s spirit of “change.” This is more of the same.

Posted by: aboron | January 14, 2009 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Looks like Obama is going to continue business as usual in Washington. I'm a strong supporter of Obama but if Geithner gets the nod that's it.

It goes to fundamentals and approval of Geithner would reveal a character flaw in Obama.

Posted by: Maddogg | January 14, 2009 6:13 PM | Report abuse

Funny how the same people that want to nail Geithner for sleepover camp deductions have no problem with Sarah Palin charging the state of Alaska a gazillion dollars as per diem for working from home.

As far as I'm concerned neither should be in politics.

Posted by: JRM2 | January 14, 2009 6:28 PM | Report abuse

The answer to your question is no.

Posted by: whocares666 | January 14, 2009 6:28 PM | Report abuse

"maybe geithner made an honest mistake"

yes, maybe he did.

and maybe sammy sosa accidently put cork in his bat, too.

but for a position as secretary of treasury, i don't think geithner should be given the benefit of the doubt.

our country is supposed to lead by example, not by exception.

we are 6 days away from leaving and administration that had an AWOL president, a 5 time deferrment VP, and a cast of supporting characters straight out of the ny tims best seller, "Crimes 'R Us".

this country is #22 on the least corrupt list.. that's not an honor. that's a joke.

Posted by: DriveByPoster | January 14, 2009 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Character and integrity should still count. Telling us that the man could have make more than the measly $400 thousand he pulled down with some of the firms that lost billions for their customers and about his fine college career doesn't cut it.
Choose someone else Mr. President-Elect. You are not in Chicago anymore.

Posted by: mharwick | January 14, 2009 6:50 PM | Report abuse

This makes you want to go hummm, Years ago I used to contract out to a company, and I knew I had to pay taxes on the monies I made to the IRS,It seems to me a man with the education that this man has and dealing with money all the time would know that he needs to pay taxes, then wait almost 7 years to pay them. I think that if he hadn't been chosen to fill this position as treasury secetary he still would owe the taxes. Back 40 or 50 years ago the politicians that the people elected to various offices in this great country tried to help the people that put them there,maybe there were crooked and never got caught or they were honest and tried to do the right thing with the power that they had. but now it seem that more and more they show just what money hungry thieves they are, My dad always said they might not be dishinest when they get into office , but give them awile until someone waves a few million under their nose and and they will be. But thats life I guess.

Posted by: bennyboggess | January 14, 2009 7:17 PM | Report abuse

Oh my and you must of thought the banks were really going to free up credit and adjust mortgages with their bailout money because they were "asked" to. Heck you must still believe in Santa as well if you think this guy didn't know he wasn't paying his taxes, especially after being audited. Geez, I think you should rename your opinion blog to the gullible chronicles.

Posted by: drgirl | January 14, 2009 7:22 PM | Report abuse

It's pretty hard to believe that he made an "honest mistake".

Each year at the IMF he signed a statement saying that he knew his pay was being "grossed up" to cover income, self-employment and FICA taxes. The statement he signed also said that he agreed to pay those taxes.

All you have to do to know this is to look at the documents on the Senate Finance Committee website that have been posted since yesterday.

Doesn't anyone in the media know how to do even basic research anymore?

Posted by: BrownShirtGeorge | January 14, 2009 7:28 PM | Report abuse

"Apparently this is a pretty common error among U.S. employees of international organizations"

I've seen that comment at least a dozen times in the last two days. But none of you bothers to offer any evidence for your assertion. Why not? I suspect it's just glib because you don't want to know the truth.

You might at least include in your flimsy excuse that at IMF each U.S. employee is told about the tax liability, is given quarterly statements which show zero SE tax withholding, and has tax preparation assistance available on site.

And then tell us why you think his taking a deduction for business equipment for a business that didn't exist is so innocent.

Posted by: infuse | January 14, 2009 7:38 PM | Report abuse

First Obama gets an old hand such as Summers, then he tries to get the second part of the money released and now he wants a Wall Street insider to help donate the money to the bankers. Folks, Obama got to pay back for his big supporters, the bankers, not the little guys!

Posted by: ckewu | January 14, 2009 8:10 PM | Report abuse

I went to Southeast Missouri State and took a Ph.D. at Washington State University. I don't think that information has anything to do with cheating on taxes.

I hung around Dartmouth one year on a NEH. That still doesn't have much to do with cheating on taxes.

"Honest mistakes" are made by addled killers in Texas all the time. We execute them even when we know they are mentally deficient.

Brains, credentials, expensive universities, and old-boy ties have nothing to do with character.

Posted by: rusty3 | January 14, 2009 9:08 PM | Report abuse

Geithner is not appropriate for Secretary of the Treasury. It would be crazy to appoint a cheater to any government post. People like Geithner don't make these kinds of mistakes and if they do, that disqualifies them. He should remove his name from consideration.

Posted by: jkarlinsky | January 14, 2009 9:12 PM | Report abuse

There is no way he 'made a mistake'. If he was paid as an independant contractor, did he not put his income down on his tax return? If he did report his income on a Schedule C, it would have walked him through his self-employment taxes. What is the magic number as to how much one has to earn to 'be in it for the money'?? Dont' forget congress is paid less but they all seem to leave multi millionaires, so it is not just the initial income. As for Rangle, if he can't understand the basic tax laws -i.e. you earn $$, you pay IRS, then why should the IRS think the rest of should? maybe that is why they should toss out all of the present rules (which includes all the old rules that they left there while making new conflicting laws) and just do a flat tax - It has made the economies of many, many countries go from huge red to the black - with a huge boost to the economy and to the benefit of their citizens - vs the 'bailouts' which may return us to the 79% tax rates of Roosevelt.

Posted by: attygirl | January 14, 2009 9:23 PM | Report abuse

If the *change* obama was speaking of is one law for congressionals and another for the *prols** then fine - confirm him.
If not, stand up and say no it isn't so.
I am so tired of supporting the *Royals*!!

Posted by: thornegp | January 14, 2009 9:23 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, but thw "I didn't know I was liable" doesn't wash unless the IMF works differently from other UN System entities. As a US taxpayer working for the UN, the UN reimburses your taxes to the US government only on revision of your return -- You don't get the rebate unless you have filed and paid the self employment tax and medical. And you are told numerous times before you file for reimbursement that you are liable for SET. Impossible not to know, and impossible to get the money if you haven't paid it. So it is possible it is both the IMF and Geithner who were playing it close to the chest on this. At the UN Secretariat in NY it could not have been done!!

Posted by: jakono | January 14, 2009 9:33 PM | Report abuse

If Geithner made this "honest mistake" for four years running then he's too stupid to be Sec. of Treasury and if you are dumb enough to believe this was an “honest mistake” then I have some ocean front property in eastern Wyoming to sell you. Let’s call Geithner for what he is – a tax cheat.

Posted by: fenoy | January 14, 2009 9:44 PM | Report abuse

Yes he made an "honest mistake." That is lefty code for an indictable offense for anyone else.

Amazingly enough, none of the usual left wing screechers have raised the issue of "experience" when a guy who is purportedly astute enough to un screw all of the Bush administrations financial misdeeds cannot seem to comprehend the simple laws the rest of which the rest of us are mandatory.

Now that, boys and girls, sums up the New Order of the messiah.

If it wasn't so serious - it would be Saturday Night Live. But we will leave them to cover serious issues - like Sarah Palin's wardrobe or whether or not her husband molested their daughters.

Now THAT is comedy.....

Posted by: VirginiaConservative | January 14, 2009 10:05 PM | Report abuse

Nope. Sorry. Don't buy it.

He's either Dishonest or Incompetent... And I put my money on Dishonest. Just because it's a "common error" at the IMF, which is chock full of dishonest, well-credentialed white collar criminals, doesn't mean squat.

But, sounds like he's already been confirmed, so... On With The Show.

Doesn't look like the "Change I've Been Waiting For." Sorry. I guess I can't get around Reality as easily as some wealthier, happier, better connected, "positive thinking," employed people.

Posted by: LeftwithNochoice | January 14, 2009 10:31 PM | Report abuse

I say that Geithner should go packing. The IRS regularly prosecutes tax cheats who haven't cheated as much as he has. When you compare his behavior to the 'nannygate' of a Clinton AJ appointment who was sent packing, or is it only women that get nannygated?

Posted by: robert23 | January 14, 2009 10:34 PM | Report abuse

The position that Tim Geithner has been nominated for is one of the most important anyone could possess as Secretary of the Federal Treasury and IRS. His indiscretions of not paying his taxes aren't just a trivial mistake, its against the law!! You can't minimize what Mr. Geithner has done! I am sorry but our country is struggling financially and we can't afford to have someone in this position who lacks credibility and morals. Americans are already cynical and disillusioned by our governmental leaders and this is another reason why....

Posted by: Rhonda5 | January 14, 2009 11:06 PM | Report abuse

Hey folks - who should be sent packing are the ones who are pushing and supporting this guy.

Its no wonder we are in the shape we are in.

We are in a financial mess. Taxes are out of control - so we appoint a guy who is either too stupid or too arrogant to obey the tax laws?

What the hel* is wrong with America?

SPEAK UP! Call the liberal puke you voted in and demand they sober up and pay attention. Remember transparency and responsibility?

Make the rubber meet the road.

You assho*es won. Do something.

Posted by: VirginiaConservative | January 14, 2009 11:20 PM | Report abuse

The guy has many good things to recommend him but on these tax issues, frankly, I don't believe him. I think he played fast and loose for a little change in his pocket. I voted for Obama but he needs to remember that no one is indispensible. There are a lot of smart folks out there. Picking this guy for Treasury would be a huge insult to all Americans who play by the rules on their tax returns .. and it is precisely those Americans you should be thinking about after saving all the a-holes on Wall Street these past few months.

Posted by: tslats | January 14, 2009 11:43 PM | Report abuse

these days the public has so little trust in its institutions. So lets make the guy who evades 4 years of obvious taxes, claims sleep away camp as a deduction SOT. There are we all feeling better about gov now ?
What a sad joke :(

Posted by: snapplecat07 | January 14, 2009 11:47 PM | Report abuse

The trouble with this story if this happened in the Bush administration the media would be in a rage, now there apologizing for this guy even though he paid just after being asked by Obama.
What hypocrites!

Posted by: ekim53 | January 14, 2009 11:51 PM | Report abuse

"Apparently this is a pretty common error among U.S. employees of international organizations." Please, please do not insult my intelligence! This is just so absurd! Do people just "forget" a tax bill of $43,000? Obviously Geithner had the money, which he repaid with interest the very moment the story came out. Anybody half-way sane and concerned with his career would know how damaging a "forgotten" $43,000 tax bill would be if it suddenly became "remembered," especially when that career is in "public service."

No, it must be a game for Geithner, just to get away with things because he thinks he can. He reminds me of Wolfowitz and his machinations at the World Bank when he tried to get his girlfriend a questionable $60,000 raise. Neither of these guys is a genius, that's for sure, and what's worse, they don't have the common sense to not hang swords to dangle over their heads, and for relatively low stakes.

In my view, Geithner has thoroughly disqualified himself not only for the office that President-Elect Obama is offering, but even for the position that he currently holds or, indeed, any responsible position that requires a thorough background check. From the tax affair it's obvious that Geithner is at best negligent and inattentive to important matters, and has a less-than-scrupulous attitude toward those whom he owes money. I bet his credit history would make for interesting reading.

Geithner has throroughly discredited himself and will never command the respect and stature that is required for a member of the Obama cabinet. What we want is a person of the intelligence, moral stature, and known integrity as, say, Warren Buffett. There is a man who wouldn't be caught dead "forgetting" his obligations.

Posted by: hfisher1 | January 14, 2009 11:53 PM | Report abuse

It should be good enough to convince the IRS. Few if anyone will ever convince this crowd of snipers of anything.

Posted by: gary4books | January 15, 2009 5:12 AM | Report abuse

Plain and simple, if this guy were an appointee of a Republican administration, he would hung. When will the American people wake up and acknowledge this double standard?

Posted by: cornax | January 15, 2009 7:55 AM | Report abuse

Bleating, carping, rude commentary abound on this thread. What is missing is a complete factual workup. All the statements here are based on snips and sound bytes......But as a country we sure do love to pontificate on issues we know little about or the circumstances surrounding same...

Lets deal with only facts and allow this gentleman a little dignity as his confirmation process moves forward.

Posted by: Thatsnuts | January 15, 2009 8:11 AM | Report abuse

If I was on that committee I'd want to ask him:

"In the first Clinton administration, the Judiciary Committee refused confirmation to two women who made the same mistake you've admitted. Do you think you should be held to a lower standard because you're a man?"

Not only should someone who can't or deliberately didn't, deal with his taxes properly, not be Treasury Secretary, but I really want to flag up the old male/female double standard. Thank you, Republicans, for giving this U.K. based U.S. citizen time to get a letter in the mail to the Committee chairman. Letters are much more likely to be read than emails. I don't think it will make any difference to the outcome, but I tried.

Posted by: diotima1 | January 15, 2009 8:33 AM | Report abuse

Obama's Chrysler 300C Hemi for sale on eBay and what that says about transparency

Is Mr. Geithner's nomination an example of Mr. Obama's promised new transparency in government? The Obama team knew about this problem for over a month and sat on it until their cover was blown by the WSJ.

Congress today votes to release the remaining $350 Billion dollars so president elect Obama can spend it with full disclosure and transparency.

After reading this morning in the Chicago Sun Times that Obama’s very own 2004 Chrysler 300C Hemi is now for sale on eBay, I am now convinced he is indeed quite the man of “transparency”. He drove this gas hog as his personal car for three years before swapping it for a Ford Escape hybrid around the time he began running for president in 2007.

This news hints at hypocrisy more than transparency.

Posted by: Midwester | January 15, 2009 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Dude acts like he's above the law, looks like he is too. Messed up but what else is new. He's going to hit us all upside the head he's so different, bowl us all over with that change stuff...our money into Wall St.'s money lickety split. Good luck suckers.

Posted by: elgunjduts | January 15, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Another example of politicians who say "Do as I say, not as I do". There have got to be alot of people out there who know just as much as he does and who actually follow the laws

Posted by: bhoud | January 15, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

"In the first Clinton administration, the Judiciary Committee refused confirmation to two women who made the same mistake you've admitted. Do you think you should be held to a lower standard because you're a man?"Posted by: diotima1"

I think the problems of the two Federal judges who were nominated by President Clinton did not have tax problems. As I recall it, both hired in house domestic help but didn't either check about credentials or didn't issue 1099's to them.

Again, two Federal judges made a mistake. Both are still on the bench. Why should it be different for this person. Because he is a he?

Posted by: Thatsnuts | January 15, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Funny how the same people that want to nail Geithner for sleepover camp deductions have no problem with Sarah Palin charging the state of Alaska a gazillion dollars as per diem for working from home.

As far as I'm concerned neither should be in politics.

Posted by: JRM2 | January 14, 2009 6:28 PM


JRM2 - you missed one minor detail between the two....what Sarah Palin did is LEGAL under AK state law.....what Geithner did is not allowed under IRS rules - therefoe Illegal.....hope that helps you.
Until we remove our partisan glasses on both sides of the aisle.....this wil forever continue...ala Rangel - also evading his taxes....Great thought - we have one that enforces tax policy and one that creates tax policy - who are both tax cheats....ahh..only in America.

Posted by: short1 | January 15, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

This man knowingly did not pay his taxes. He cannot even handle his own economic welfare and yet we're supposed to trust him. He is a crook plain and simple and if I had done that or any other mainstream person not in Washington we would be put in jail and/or pay a HUGE penalty, fine, lost our house, etc. This is ridiculous what these criminals in Washington are allowed to get away with. The American people are not stupid Obama and we can smell a rat attempting to become part of the cabinet. Why can't Obama choose people for his cabinet who do not have a criminal past? You have Emanual, Clinton, Geithner, Holder, etc.. Why the bad judgement in people?

Posted by: chloe_658 | January 15, 2009 4:44 PM | Report abuse

If Sara Palin was the treasury nominee and had the same issues, just imagine how insanly rabid and unforgiving the coverage be like. What Giethner has going for him is that the press will minimize the stupidity of his actions since he not a republican.

Posted by: SayWhat4 | January 15, 2009 5:27 PM | Report abuse

President Elect Obama has a responsibility to the country to select the most distinguished and knowledgable persons to each post. Mr. Geithner is hardly the person for the post of Secretary of the Treasury.

He committed an act that would put another citizen in jail. It was no accident. He signed documents that indicated he would pay his taxes repeatedly and never did. If we can't trust the head of the Treasury to pay his own damn taxes, just what can we trust him to do?

We need to have confidence in soon to be President Obama. That is imperative. Holding on to Geithner at this point is so damaging, I feel it puts Obama's decision making in question.

As a strong supporter of Obama, I hope he sees the light soon.

Mr. Summers, I hope to hear your nmae announced as the next Secretary of Treasury soon.

Posted by: CJ2161 | January 15, 2009 6:16 PM | Report abuse

I am extremely disappointed with the president elect's on going support for this nominee. The vetting process is what it is - a process to examine the nominee with a public spotlight perspective. We as a nation have signed on for Positive Change. Mr. Geithner is a person who has demonstrated in his recent past actions the ability to make shrewd, illegal decisions to financially benefit. A gross up in his wages was provided to pay for the taxes owed. Given the opportunity after audit, he made the decision to not fess up and take care of obligations from prior return years. Honest mistake - I do not believe so.

While on a smaller scale, the actions are certainly consistent with the troubling shades of gray decisions which have plagued Wall Street, and in many cases all parts of the globe.

I certainly encourage Mr. Geithner to respectfully withdraw his nomination and allow the president elect to nominate a replacement soon that will represent Positive Change.

Posted by: bdonohue1 | January 15, 2009 8:13 PM | Report abuse

So come on here this clown Tim Geithner is
nothing but a damn crook and corrupt as
Barack Hussein Obama and a serial taxcheat
that loves to use cheap labor illegal aliens as his domestic slaves,and it all
makes him a prefect Sec of Treasury for
The Most Corrupt President Elect in US history Barack Hussein Obama.

Is Boss Obama setting up a New Chicago Crime Family to replace Al Capone or what?
As Obama sure knows how to pick the slimey
sleazy dirtbags of the Democrat Party.

So I damn sure agree with Impeachemnt of
this overbearing,arrogant crook Obama.

Posted by: Karen2009 | January 16, 2009 6:34 AM | Report abuse

His choice of work is irrelevant to the issue, it may be laudable but it ignores the fact that he did not pay taxes properly - the IRS pubs are very clear on this and he could have called the 800 number if he somehow was not able to understand them even with his impressive credentials. The IMF also had experts on call

He plainly kept the money - most of us do not even have that choice as it is witheld before we get paid (and if we change jobs we may pay over and have to wait months for a refund)

The IRS pursues poor waitresses for unreported tip income routinely, many of these people are not as smart or lucky as him, the same standard should apply
He needs to withdraw his candidacy immediately - it sets the bad example

Posted by: CTTaxpayer | January 16, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

If an employee of the IRS makes a mistake on their tax returns, they are summarily fired from their jobs. Do we imagine that there won't be tremendous resentment within IRS employees towards their new boss because he was allowed to start his job after making an "honest mistake" on his tax returns? Is the best way for the Obama administration to begin to confront the enormous problems confronting our economy to deliberatly set up a situation in which Treasury employees hate their chief executive?

Posted by: GaryLawrence | January 16, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse

No, he shouldn't be confirmed.

This is a relatively simple tax thing that even college students on small fellowships need to address on their tax forms.

A question that I haven't heard the media make on this is how he could have gotten through the Bush vetting process when he was nominated to be Pres of the NY Fed. Didn't they bother looking at the financial records of the people who were going to run the country's monetary system? I wonder how many other tax and conflict-of-interest problems are lurking out there in Bush appointees?

Posted by: raydh | January 16, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

I cannot understand not paying these taxes. Anyone else would have been called down by the IRS. And anyone else would have been assessed penalties as well as interest.

I am more troubled by his action/inactions that helped get us into the mess we are in. He is a member of the FOMC. What were his advisements to Greenspan? We need to hold people accountable. He might not make the money that the crooks on Wall Street make but he is paid close to the President's pay. That's plenty.

Posted by: hz9604 | January 17, 2009 7:06 AM | Report abuse

This much is known. Geithner knowingly, willfully, and repeatedly filed inaccurate tax returns. While he may have the professional credentials to be Secretary of the Treasury, his actions demonstrate he lacks the necessary personal qualities..including integrity & honesty. He must withdraw as a candidate.

Posted by: wstarner | January 17, 2009 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Geithner has several degrees and he allegedly can't figure out how to do his taxes correctly? Yes, the code is ridiculous, but I don't have to read through it to know that if I live in this country and earn an income, it's taxable, even if it's from the IMF. His excuse is that it was an "honest mistake". If I used that, I'd get a penalty charge on top of taxes owed. Mr. Geithner gets the top job at the IRS.
Go figure.

Posted by: rmpatera | January 17, 2009 10:15 AM | Report abuse

"Relative indifference to self-enrichment" is not a satisfactory explanation or justification. Because he preferred power to short-term financial remuneration does not make him unwitting or unintentional in his failure to pay taxes. Indeed, it is beyond belief, at least in terms of presumption, that he did not know he owed money from 2001-02 after being caught by the IRS regarding 2004-05. He made a conscious decision to get away with something "because he could" (reference Clinton). He also didn't correct the prior deductions he took re his kids' camps (is that for real?!) even after his accountant told him that he could not take such a deduction in 2006. I too want a qualified Traesury Secretary but this wasn't an honest mistake. It bespeaks a tendency to cut corners where others play by the rules. And as Treas Secy, he is being appointed as head of the rules enforcing agency (IRS). Competence doesn't trump impropriety or even the appearance of impropriety (that's the deal with public service, you serve, not self serve). Ability doesn't trump responsibility. Geithner and Obama should not be rewarded or reward, respectively, this behavior. If so, then confidence in govt is further eroded, ethical behavior again is again judged to be relative, just as you seem to want to judge him only against the worst crooks or people who chose to make bigger bucks out of school. I'll take one of those bigger earners who stay within the law anytime over Mr Geithner. He needs to learn a lesson, as do others by example, and then move on with his career. Consequences apply, sometimes unpleasant, sometimes inconvenient. Pres Obama needs to understand this as well.

Posted by: drs5 | January 17, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Nope,sorry not an "Honest Mistake" by little Timmy the sneaky tax cheater turned
Scumbag Barack Hussein Obama's Chicago
Crime Family 'Bookkeeper' as Timmy is just
another crooked,culture of corruption,Obama
Vulture out to rip off the honest taxpayers
all he and Barack Hussein Obama the new
Chicago Crime Family Boss Man. Pull the
Damn Crooks Nomination You Creep Obama.
Send Poor Little Timmy To The Pen For Life!

Posted by: Amy2009 | January 17, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse


Barack Obama is the greatest liar in history (no wonder he is an excellent lawyer!) During his campaign, he told lots of hope in future for America if he was elected, but now he warns Americans of oncoming darker economy and not to put too much hope in his promises. He promises a big plan to reduce budget deficit but his inauguration ceremony this January will be the most costly in history (50 millions) while the nation is in deep depression, as well as his presidential campaign (600 millions), which was far more than his opponent John McCain's. He swears to clean up Washington DC, but he failed to first clean up his homestate Illinois, one of the most corrupt state with the scandal of Governor Rod Blagojevich, who greatly helped Obama to win his state senate seat in 1996, 1998, and 2002. And his favorite slogan is "Yes, we CAN", yet he himself CANNOT quit smoking at all !!!

Posted by: TIMNGUYEN1 | January 19, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

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