We keep hearing again and again and again from the media that Timothy Geithner, President-elect Obama’s choice as Treasury secretary, made an honest mistake in failing to pay employment taxes. The media keeps saying Geithner committed “goofs.”
President-elect Obama’s spokesman said Geithner made “honest mistakes,” and this phrase, like “goofs,” has turned into a mantra among journalists. Everyone who’s honest knows that if Geithner had been the nominee of a Republican president, this “mistake” would have ruined his chances of confirmation.
But it’s hard to let this slide because as head of the Treasury, Geithner would be overseeing the Internal Revenue Service. It’s also hard to believe that someone with Geithner’s experience in public finance and economics wouldn’t understand the tax withholding process. It’s also disturbing that he wouldn’t grasp the complexities of the tax laws he would have to enforce.
The burden is on Geithner to show why it doesn’t matter.
POST SCRIPT next day: Geithner was warned repeatedly that he had to pay the taxes, the Wall Street Journal reports. Meanwhile, Geithner’s confirmation hearing has been delayed until after Barack Obama is sworn in as president.