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Withdraw or stand their ground?

February 3, 2009

Tom Daschle doesn’t want to be a distraction. Nancy Killefer doesn’t want to be a distraction. Timothy Geithner has already been a distraction.

What these three high-profile nominees to President Obama’s White House have in common, besides not wanting to be distractions, is that they apparently don’t know how to do their taxes. Daschle, the former senator and Obama’s choice for health secretary, and Killefer, a former assistant Treasury secretary and nominee to oversee the government’s budget, have withdrawn their nominations because of tax indiscretions. Geithner has been confirmed but his path to the top of Treasury was also marred by tax troubles that some fear may come back to haunt him.

Besides begging the question why do smart people not know how to do their taxes, it also throws a shadow over Obama’s quest to have a fast, smooth transition to power.

The real question is whether nominees should withdraw their nominations when tax troubles surface. If the transgression isn’t enough to throw them in jail, why should they lose the opportunity to serve in the White House?


As a strong Obama supporter, i’m growing tired of his flawed nominees getting past the vetting process.
We Democrats rejoiced in the Palin fiasco but now i’m
getting back everything that i threw at my Republican friends. It’s embarrasing to me.
It also is making me question Barack’s judgement.

Posted by Richard Daly | Report as abusive

I feel no respect for these three individuals who should be really be ashamed of themselves. The have the money, and plenty of it and should stopped for a few minutes to do their taxes. They, of course thought that because of their money, they were above the law, shame, shame on them. If Geithner still has any dignity left in him, he should withdraw and step aside, they will always have this stain on their records,

Posted by George | Report as abusive

The nominees were selected based on their ability to do the job. Their personal tax filings or lack of does not reflect negatively on President Obama. However, it does seem to indicate that the IRS should audit our politicians. So for in the last week we have recovered over $250,000.

Posted by Elaine | Report as abusive

I can say one thing about our new president, he’s sure flushing out the tax dodgers.

I think that our congressmen have been a sleep at the wheel to let our country get into the shape it is today.

I will agree with our President, it is time for a change. From now on never vote for a sitting senator or house member. As we know and as we have seen power corrupts.

I keep hearing about the stimulus package costing the tax payers a trillion dollars.

But when Senator Maxine Walters from California introduced the Julilee Act in 2008, which forgives a trillion dollars owed to the Tax payers of the United States not much was said.

Unless my accounting is wrong, when you remove a Trillion dollars from the accounts receivable you create a trillion dollar debt.

I have only one question: If the intra stucture of the United States is in such bad shape, where has our tax money been going?

Posted by Jake Prince | Report as abusive

if something sounds to good to be true it most likely is

Character is determined by how you behave when no one is looking

Obama is showing exactly what he is made of on his decisions choices and promises

Wait till Blago heads to trial I bet more of this guys mettle will be tested and the bad guys have not even tested him yet

Posted by Frank | Report as abusive

I can’t believe that anyone is surprised by this. Like all of these politicians, Obama demonstrated clearly his lack of conviction in a single-minded pursuit of power. It happened over and over again, yet it seems everyone was so happy to get rid of Bush that actually paying attention was too inconvenient.

Posted by Russ in PA | Report as abusive

I appreciate your honesty Richard.

The only thing I want to say is that this is no surprise to those of us who are not Obama fans. Expectations were set so high that Obama has nowhere to go but down. Everyone is now beginning to see that he is just another politician. Others can say what they want about Bush, but Obama is really no different than him.

Perhaps the thing that bothers me the most is that he is so willing to support (as well as the democrats in congress) his appointees even though they clearly avoided paying their taxes (something we would go to jail for). What does that say to the rest of us, and the young people, in the United States? It says it is okay to break the law if you become important enough.

BTW, as a side note, the stimulus bill as it stands today is only supported by 38 percent of the nation. Thank goodness the republicans, by standing firm, were able to elevate this issue to alert the people that they were about to be taken to the cleaners.

Posted by TC | Report as abusive

It would be interesting to know, for how long has the knowledge of these nominees infractions been known about? and if there has been a calculated plan to launch the scandals just when they are not needed.. Or are they? Anyone else want to confess before the IRS comes knocking.

Tax avoidance is rife in the majority of all countries.
Is it a case of “people in glass houses that shouldn’t be throwing stones”?
It’s great, that the offenders that could have well afforded to be honest, and should be the most responsible and exemplar pillars of society are being exposed… but anyone else want to put their tax returns up to public scrutiny?

If confessions are good enough to cleanse the souls of the sinners, why isn’t the tax payback good enough for redemption..

Find me a saint in congress and I’ll find you the pixie at the bottom of my garden.

Posted by Dubious | Report as abusive

Tolerance of wrongdoings especially in the highest level of the government should not be condoned. Tax evasion is criminal. What is wrong is wrong. Al Capone went to prison for tax evasion why is that they are exempted. That is the sign of a corrupt culture and corruption will only thrive when we the people tolerate it. So, stop talking about casting stones if you do not sin, because the people need to throw rocks to these people to gain the trust and credibility of this new administration who promised transparency and moral high grounds. I don’t think so.

Posted by Gary Kupal | Report as abusive

Geitner’s lapse was understandable – at least he had a complicated tax structure to fail to understand. Something about the IMF not paying payroll taxes, but giving it to the employee to pay, etc. That’s at least somewhat confusing. I can give him the benefit of the doubt.

Daschle, on the other hand, took deliberate steps to avoid paying his taxes and more annoyingly, both he and the Administration were aware of the failure BEFORE yesterday! Why, then, put him up for nomination? That was the misstep of someone unused to the “Washington insider politics.” I knew someday this inexperience would rear its ugly head; I didn’t think it would be during the nomination process.

I don’t know anything about the Killefer problem, so won’t comment.


If public officials do not pay their taxes them do to them what you do to people who don’t pay. Give them the chance or throw them in jail. Citizens need to vote them out if they don’t trust them. I guess Obama just can’t find many people to serve who play by the rules. And we’re supposed to trust our elected officials?

Posted by jason | Report as abusive

contrary to popular belief this is not the change the public was looking for. The problems happening are completely predictable when you are relying on long term washington insiders to pick and choose their own people to staff everything. This can all be saved but time is short before leadership is lost and irretrievably damaged. The best course of action is the fastest and strongest–VETO your own party’s bill and start fresh–that will show leadership and a conviction of principles.

Posted by dominick | Report as abusive

Now it is Leon Panetta’s turn. There is a huge conflict of interest in $700,000 of speaking fees 2008 regarding groups he may do business with if he is confirmed CIA director.

I am thinking Obama is already looking for someone else.

Oh my goodness, think of the outcry if this was George Bush. So far, there is hardly a critical peep from the media with all these ethical violations……It certainly is a double standard.

Posted by TC | Report as abusive

What is this we’re now hearing regarding Geithner and the other tax scofflaws being subpoenaed in another tax fraud case? Is it true that our political elite are receiving special treatment over ordinary citizens?

Posted by Ann | Report as abusive

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