What the Cat Dragged In
By William Warren
As any pet lover understands, the cat occasionally drags in something nasty. And, when it comes to the biggest cat in town, Barack Obama, a mounting heap of repugnant detritus is being dumped on America's doorstep.
Unfortunately for the residents of this country, that heap is now poised to take over the house.
First and foremost, all the attention is buzzing around now regarding Mr. Obama's nomination of Timothy Geithner for Treasury Secretary. One would hope the individual tapped to oversee all federal finance and money matters would have his own personal finance and money matters in line. Unfortunately, that does not appear to be the case.
As yesterday's news reports reveal, Mr. Geithner failed to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes for several years during his tenure at the International Monetary Fund. Moreover, he employed an immigrant house keeper who for a number of months had inadequate work papers, he inappropriately used his child's overnight camp time to calculate dependent-care tax deductions, and more.
Now that Mr. Geithner is under the microscope, he's purring like a kitten in hopes of a tummy rub. As The Wall Street Journal describes:
“At the closed-door meeting, Mr. Geithner was contrite, several participants said. He told senators the mistakes weren't intentional, but that he should have known better…The Obama team said Mr. Geithner's taxes have [now] been paid in full, and that he didn't intend to avoid payment, but made a mistake common for employees of international institutions.”
The article goes on to quote Obama aids who “said they didn't think these issues would present a problem, given what they characterized as the minor nature of the infractions and the gravity of the role Mr. Geithner has been nominated to take.” Well perhaps the Obama folks ought to be reminded the age-old piece of wisdom taken from the Good Book itself. As it so aptly warns:
“He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.” (Which is kind of a nice way of saying, if you can't trust someone with pocket change, don't give him the keys to the vault.)
It's safe to say that Mr. Geithner has demonstrated a profound “unrighteousness” with regards to his finances. So why shouldn't the American people have serious doubts about his ability to deal with theirs? Curiosity may have killed the cat, but Mr. Geithner's lack of curiosity (to say the least) about his own financial affairs may well kill the economic viability of this nation.
Let's pause here for just one second to set the record straight on Mr. Geither – and on the blithe dismissal Mr. Obama is giving the various serious charges against his Secretary of Treasury designee. Because, the fact is, both Mr. Geither and Mr. Obama know they are in turn perpetrating and covering up a boldface lie.
As Bryron York points out in a stunning (if largely ignored) National Review Online article this week, Timothy Geithner knew full well that he was evading his self-employment tax. And suspects that Mr. Obama knows it too. Or, at the least he should. And if he doesn't, that cat is derelict in his duty
Here's how Mr. York explains Mr. Geithner's scam (may we have your attention, Mr. Obama?):
"The IMF did not withhold state and federal income taxes or self-employment taxes — Social Security and Medicare — from its employees' paychecks. But the IMF took great care to explain to those employees, in detail and frequently, what their tax responsibilities were. First, each employee was given the IMF Employee Tax Manual. Then, employees were given quarterly wage statements for the specific purpose of calculating taxes. Then, they were given year-end wage statements. And then, each IMF employee was required to file what was known as an Annual Tax Allowance Request. Geithner received all those documents.
"At the end of the tax allowance form were the words, "I hereby certify that all the information contained herein is true to the best of my knowledge and belief and that I will pay the taxes for which I have received tax allowance payments from the Fund." Geithner signed the form. He accepted the allowance payment. He didn't pay the tax. For several years in a row."
So, Mr. Geithner's tax evasion wasn't an easily explain “minor infraction.” So, Mr. Obama's ho-hum defense of his hand-picked flim-flam artist is not an acceptable dodge. And both the cat and his detritus have some real explaining to do.
The parade of pariahs does not end with the Treasury secretary, however. In fact, the stench can be found eking its way into nearly every nook and cranny of Obama's new hastily constructed cabinet.
One of the most prominent strays found in the Obama menagerie carries a striking resemblance to a Soviet-style bear. Carol M. Browner, who is President-elect Obama's choice for Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change, was recently a member of Socialist International—a group whose moniker embodies its mission.
According to the Washington Times, the group oversees a number of the world's social democratic political parties, calls for “global governance” regarding climate change, and believes wealthier nations should downsize their economies to combat Global Warming.
And although Mrs. Browner's information was stripped from Socialist International's website, word has gotten out and questions have been raised. The Obama people, who were well aware of Mrs. Browner's radical socialist stance on “Global Warming,” however, are seeking to reassure the masses. As the article states:
“Mr. Obama's transition team said Mrs. Browner's membership in the organization is not a problem and that it brings experience in U.S. policymaking to her new role.”
Experience with international socialist groups is not the experience the American people look for in their leaders. The office of House Minority Leader John Boehner echoes this sentiment in the following pointed response:
"Does [Mrs. Browner] agree with the group's positions on global governance—that the United States should abdicate its international leadership to international organizations? Does she support its position that the international community should be the ultimate arbiter of climate change policy?"
Whether it's through some radical world-government treaty on “Global Warming” prevention or through the resurrection of the debilitating “cap and trade” system, America's economy is likely to suffer under the unsettling “experience” of Carol M. Browner.
Barack Obama's list of unsettling appointees would be incomplete without a few pay-to-play violators. In fact, he's tapped a whole host of them.
The most notable of these would have to be Senator Hillary Clinton, Mr. Obama's former rival who's now on track to be the next Secretary of State. As the Associated Press reported on Tuesday, the former First Lady “intervened at least six times in government issues directly affecting companies and others that later contributed to her husband's foundation.”
The fact that these organizations and businesses donated so profusely to Bill Clinton's foundation after Mrs. Clinton so energetically supported them raise a number of ethical concerns regarding “pay-to-play” corruption. Although it is unlikely the jubilant and enthusiastic Democratic Congress will deny her the new job, these reports ought not to be taken lightly.
And then there is former Governor Bill Richardson who withdrew his nomination to be Barack Obama's commerce secretary. Although he has predictably defended his innocence, Mr. Richardson is facing a federal investigation regarding a lucrative transportation contract a number of his top political donors received.
Mr. Obama's choice for agriculture secretary is also knee-deep in pay-to-play problems. According to a recent Washington Times exclusive, former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack uses state power to advance MidAmerican Energy Co.'s expansion into wind energy. Upon leaving office, Mr. Vilsack worked for the same energy company where he then benefited financially. As the next agriculture secretary, a whole plethora of ethical concerns would arise as both his political jurisdiction and MidAmerican Energy Co.'s financial wellbeing would be inextricably intertwined.
Mary L. Schapiro, Mr. Obama's choice to be the next head of the Securities and Exchange Commission, is also staring down a whole host of ethical concerns. As the New York Times describes:
“[Mrs. Schapiro] has been accused in two lawsuits of making misleading statements to quickly complete a merger of regulatory organizations after which she received a 57 percent raise in her pay.”
Although this jarring ganglion of corrupt cabinet appointees is troubling to say the least, the real concern is elsewhere. The ultimate point is not merely what the cat dragged in—it's the cat itself.
These corrupt and scandalous appointments should come as no surprise to anyone who paid a lick of attention during the 2008 campaign (mainstream media, please take note). Barack Obama has a detailed and well-chronicled history of associating with nefarious, corrupt, and downright frightening miscreants. And this latest cast of characters merely augments the already bountiful list Mr. Obama has built up over the years. Whether it's Tony Rezko, Bill Ayers, Jeremiah Wright, Rod Blagojevich, or even his boyhood mentor (and declared communist) Frank Marshall Davis, Barack Obama has demonstrated a disturbing propensity for surrounding himself with shady characters.
And clearly, as the Good Book would put it, this is one cat who shows no intention of changing his tawdry spots.
William Warren is a contributing editor of ALG News Bureau.