Geithner--Lazy, Stupid, or Crooked?
By James Crumley
If conservative leaders want to know what is wrong with the limited government movement in America, they should talk to my cousin Mary.
Mary is mad. Really mad. Jumping up and down, yelling, red in the face angry. She's mad about spending. She's mad about the bailouts. But what really riles her up is this Timothy Geithner scandal and the fact that some “conservative leaders” simply don't see the fact that the nominee to be Treasury Secretary failed to pay tens of thousands of dollars in self-employment taxes is a really, really big deal.
Take for instance columnist Charles Krauthhammer's recent comments on Fox News about the embattled nominee:
“We have in Geithner a guy with amazing experience, extremely smart, who has been in every crisis over the weakness in 2008, all the rescues. He is a man who inspires confidence in our economy, which is what it is really lacking.
“And to sink his nomination over what I think is a triviality is simply unserious. Our crisis is too strong, too big, and his is too much of an asset to deny him office over unpaid taxes, which in the end he refunded and repented.”
Yes, Mr. Geithner has experience. Yes, in many matters he is probably very smart. But the fact is that either Timothy Geithner could not figure out how to file his taxes correctly, he was simply too lazy to do them right, or he's a crook. Any one of these explanations disqualifies him from assuming the job of Treasury Secretary.
Yet, too many Republicans or so-called conservatives either are defending this guy or they are keeping quiet, hoping this scandal will simply pass.
That leads me back to cousin Mary. Mary is a typical American senior citizen. Until fairly recently she was a registered Democrat. Her husband was a union member who worked every shift he could in order to support his wife and six kids. He and Mary are now retired and last fall they sat in front of their television and watched as the stock market crashed wiping out much of their life savings.
Cousin Mary and her husband were true “Reagan Democrats.” If Republicans or conservatives ever want to return to power they will need my cousin's help.
However, right now cousin Mary feels betrayed.
The very people who are supposed to be representing her and the tens of millions of Americans who didn't buy into Obama's campaign of hope and change refuse to even take the field of battle and oppose this ridiculous appointment.
Frankly, my cousin expected the Obama administration would be populated by typical political cronies. She expected scandals like the one swirling around Timothy Geithner.
But what she didn't expect was that smart, competent and usually conservative pundits like Charles Krauthammer would spin themselves dizzy defending this sleaze.
Timothy Geithner inspires confidence in our economy? Really?
American consumers from all walks of life are in a panic. Consumer spending is plunging, the stock market is still falling. That doesn't sound like confidence in Obama and his team to me. It sounds more like the American people are terrified about the future and are preparing themselves for the worst.
Appointing a Treasury Secretary who at best can't figure out his own taxes and at worst is a tax cheat doesn't inspire confidence. It does just the opposite. And America cannot afford that right now.
To most Americans failing to pay $42,000 in taxes is not a trivial issue, especially in these times. It may be a trivial amount of money to a “Master of the Universe” like Timothy Geithner, but it's a king's ransom to most Americans. Charles Krauthhammer should know that.
But his support of Timothy Geithner and his calling allegations of tax evasion “trivial” come just days after he had dinner with President-elect Obama and a number of other conservative luminaries at the home of fellow columnist George Will.
I don't mean to pick on Mr. Krauthhammer. I have no idea what transpired at the now famous dinner. But it is not irrational for ordinary taxpayers, like my cousin Mary, to get a sense that they are being sold down the river by people who should be opposing nonsense like this nomination. A number of Republican Senators are apparently even advising President-elect Obama on how to save Geithner.
It is neither the responsibility of the Republican Party, nor of the conservative movement to help Mr. Obama clean up his mess. Defending this nomination does nothing but prove to Americans that conservatives and their Republican allies are not willing to stand up to the Washington culture that believes that our nation's laws don't apply to politicians, high flying executives at Fannie Mae or Federal Reserve Board members who want to be Treasury Secretary.
To Cousin Mary and millions of American like her this nomination is a test. Has Washington, D.C. really changed? By appointing Timothy Geithner and trying to downplay his failure to pay his taxes, President-elect Obama has already failed his part of the exam. Now it is time for the loyal opposition to weigh in. But beware, Cousin Mary doesn't grade on a curve.
James Crumley is the President of Trio Strategies.