Honeymoon-Over Watch: Obama Treasury Secretary Draws Scrutiny on Taxes

Joe owed a hell of a lot less tax than Timothy Geithner.

(Instalanche! Welcome Instapundit readers, and readers from TigerHawk and Living al Dente.)

There’s already plenty of opposition to Obama in the right-wing fever swamps of the Internets, of course. (I would link that sentence to Ann Coulter’s site, but she’s such a cartoon character, I don’t want my vast audience to give her any traffic. That’ll fix her.)

But eventually, even mainstream media outlets will turn their guns on the man who, in the eternal formulation of insider Washington, will become known as “this President.” No matter how much the media was in the tank for Obama during the campaign, no matter how enthusiastic they were in celebrating the coming of BAM-A-LOT, eventually Obama and his Administration will make missteps that even the most liberal papers cannot ignore.

We’re not there yet, but there are early signs. In the current dust-up over Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s tax problems, even the left-wing Seattle Post-Intelligencer editorial page has admitted there is a double standard. “We can only imagine what we would have said had Geithner been a Bush appointee,” the paper editorialized. As if worried that the Obama Fan Club might revoke the paper’s decoder ring, the editorial quickly added: “Should this news derail the nomination? Probably not.” (Hat tip: Taranto)

As it happens, I agree that the news should “probably not” derail the nomination. The position is critically important, and Geithner seems to have done an outstanding job coping with the financial crisis as President of the NY Federal Reserve. But Taranto points out that Geithner actually accepted reimbursement from his employer for self-employment taxes that he did not pay, which if true makes it seem more serious than a mere mistake.

The starkest irony in this is the difference between the journalistic soft shoe over the tax problems of the man nominated as head tax collector, compared with the instant feeding frenzy that erupted during the campaign over minor tax issues when an ordinary citizen posed a challenging question to The One.

The difference now, of course, is that journalists no longer have to worry that Obama might lose the election. Now the natural competitiveness of the news media will begin to overwhelm partisanship, at least until the 2012 race heats up. The honeymoon isn’t over yet, and it certainly won’t end before the Inaugural. But starting next Tuesday (ok maybe Wednesday), when President Obama doesn’t bring the troops home, doesn’t close Guantanamo, doesn’t end the recession, doesn’t deliver national health insurance, doesn’t roll back global warming and make the oceans recede — or at least doesn’t do any of these things as fast as the Left would like — then things like the peccadillos of Tim Geithner will start to get more coverage.

37 thoughts on “Honeymoon-Over Watch: Obama Treasury Secretary Draws Scrutiny on Taxes

  1. Amen. The honeymoon will be over when people (and this generation of journalists) realize the problems can’t be fixed in a day, a year and possibly maybe never. It seems to me, our new President’s role of late has been to reassure us (as though children) that everything will be OK. That kind of talk can only go so far.

    And you forgot to mention the former Gov. of New Mexico. I don’t think that got as much coverage as the YouTube video of the Obama Girl or the dress Michelle wore on The View.

  2. “The position is critically important, and Geithner seems to have done an outstanding job coping with the financial crisis as President of the NY Federal Reserve.”

    Excuse me ? The financial crisis bubbled up for years on his watch at the NY Fed and he did nothing to warn about it or prevent it. That was his job and he FAILED miserably at it . So no, a promotion is not in order. Plus he’s a tax cheat.

  3. “the problems can’t be fixed in a day, a year and possibly maybe never.”

    1. Troops not home? Not a problem. George Clooney, ironically, helped cement my already-strong conviction that we should have ousted Saddam Hussein with military force when we liberated Kuwait — and deal with the aftermath. We finally did it, and now we’re dealing with it. Has everything been done right? Probably not. But I’m not sure what the specific “problem” of having troops not home is. They haven’t EVER all been home in over a century.

    2. Close Gitmo? Then what? Gitmo may be a “problem” but it’s also a “solution”, if an enigmatic one.

    3. National health insurance? As screwed up as our current health “insurance” system is — and it’s hardly insurance; it’s something else with perverse incentives embedded in it by law — national health insurance would BE the problem, as it is wherever it exists.

    4. Global warming? IF it really exists at a significant level, is it really a problem, if the earth is nearly as cold as it ever has been, throughout geological time? What’s a degree, anyway? Might it improve the climate if it’s a tad warmer? Who’s to say it’s really “bad”? What climate is “good”?

    I’m not arguing with you, Joni — I’m just pointing out that even the notion that certain things listed by Kirk are “problems” is subject — at the very least — to serious debate by earnest people.

  4. I agree with the poster above. What has Geithner done that was so wonderful? Everything went down the tubes on his watch and no action on his part appears to have held back the tide, as the President-elect himself has said he thinks things are going to get worse before they get better. And if they don’t on their own, he’ll throw so much new debt on our backs as to guarantee it.

  5. I’m not as optimistic that the media will call Obama to task for much at all. They’re already laying extensive groundwork to pawn any problems Obama has onto the Bush administration. I don’t see that changing after only a few months. That meme, in fact, will work for the next four years.

  6. It will take 50 years to fix everything done by Bush, such as his shredding of the Constitution, his turning our economy into a third world banana Republic that is even worse than Zimbabwe’s, for making the world hate us and want to kill us, which is why 9/11 happened, for allowing corruption on a scale never seen before in politics, and for his ordering the torture of people just because of their religion and skin color, torture of the likes the world has never seen. Bush should be arrested and tried at the Hague for war crimes, tried here because it has become more and more clear over the years that he was really behind 9/11 to distract people from his low popularity ratings and jis attempts to impose a right thing theocracy.

    The 22nd Amendment needs to be repealed, because Obama will need at least 6 terms to get half of Bush’s mess fixed.

  7. Obama is now Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela. He cannot, and will not, be overtly criticized. He is by his election, iconic, and forever to be drilled into the heads of young school kids as a saint.

    Can we just fast forward please? And it will be eight years, because this media will not let him fail.

  8. Martin Luther King Jr. was a Republican. So was A. Lincoln.

    Nelson Mandela, the communist, presided over the dissolution of the only country in Africa with an average life span over 70 years. Now, its average life span is 46 years.

    Atlas will not be able to Shrug fast enough.

  9. From the time of the Fed’s creation during the FDR regime, the NY Fed has always had the lead role in overall policy decisions. In the ’30’s, New York was by far the largest state (Buffalo was the 5th largest city in the US) and the major influence in national politics (FDR, Dewey, Wilkie, etc.). The New York bankers complained and moaned about establishing 12 Fed Districts but the deal was cut in that fashion to give the appearance of being a “national” institution.

    The NY Fed has retained its status as the leader of the Fed system for all these decades and it’s chief has always been considered to be the next in line for the overall top job.

    Think of Geithner’s multiple receipts of cash fronted to pay for an employment expense in this regard: your employer gives you a cash advance for travel expenses – airfare, hotel, car rental and meals. You instead drive your own car to the destination and stay at a friend’s house, enjoy free meals there and drive your own car to various business appointments. You then just keep that cash that your employer has fronted you. When it came to light that you kept mounds of your employer’s cash over several years and didn’t spend it in the manner your employer mandated, would you expect a promotion? Or should your judgement and character be questioned?

  10. Dear Mr. Petersen: The comment by “…” is correct. Geither did a lot more snoring away at the New York Fed than bawling danger danger Will Robinson—though the robotic quality of his Fed tenure may compensate…The notion that Geither is a financial mastermind may be correct, but there’s precious little support for it.

    I aslo think you are off the beam that the press will come round and start snarling at The One. It may seem that way in comparison to the tongue baths of the last year. But hard reporting? Forget it. Here’s some notions that the press could investigate, but likely won’t:

    1. Michelle Obama’s greed. What did she do to earn that $300+ K salary from the University of Chicago, besides nag The One into earmarking a million bucks for a new hospital pavilion?

    2. All those pseudonymous campaign contributions that flooded into the 2008 camapaign coffers had to come from—-where?

    3. Wahtever happend to The One’s auntie, an illegal immigrant living in Boston?

    And so on. I also note Geithner’s odd behavior. His tax chiseling got him ~$35,000 in four or five years. That’s not trivial for 95% of the populace. But for a high ranking career civil servant, who was dragging down ~$400,000 for several years as Fed Prez, it seems a small amount, for the embarrassment and theoretically, punishment, he faced if caught out. To be sure, he relied on the ancient principle of justice whereby the well-connected, when caught, get the booklet thrown at them. Is he a crook? Could be. But the title of “chiseler, small-time division,” fits much better. Geithner seems the sort of fellow you wouldn’t trust to count the church’s rummage sale money by himself.

    Either way, his likely confirmation sets the stage for one of the gaudier acts in The One’s circus. Tim’s economic plan is simple: spend like water! To cover the dough is easy: print it, there’s plenty of suckers who want to buy. But the reckoning will come: the Under Secretary for Domestic Finance bursts into his office in a panic. It seems that the necessary paper currency and Treasury securities can’t be printed as the presses at the Bureau of Printing and Engraving have been commandeered by the Atty. Genl. Eric Holder, to print the truckloads of pardon blanks that The One must sign, lest Michelle bust him in the chops. There’s good money in pardons, as Eric learned under Billyboy, and Michelle “I’m entitled!” Obama is just the ramrod for this job. This contest between a small time chiseler and a clever crook, promises hours of laughter.

    Sincerely yours,
    Gregory Koster

  11. All of you “anonymous” contributors need to grow a set so that the readers might have a place to direct their ire, or are you so sure of your positions that you will not brook any contrary

  12. He already has rolled back global warming. Last night my thermometer registered a record low -16F in coastal New Hampshire. Those attending the Inauguration need to watch out for frostbite and hypothermia. Keep it up Obama, I can’t wait to see -20F!

  13. Global warming. Right.

    As I sit here in suburban Chicago with temps below – 20 and wind chill at levels possibly NEVER recorded here, I sure wish that gloval warming would actually, you know, come along and WARM me.

  14. Detroit had -15 last night/this morning. All-time record. Looks like Teh One is curing Global Warming already. Guess that means he’ll be pushing nukes, clean coal, etc so we don’t all freeze, right?

    And isn’t it amusing that all the enviros and greenies in CA and the Left Coast are suddenly waking up to the fact that even wind and big solar power need *big ole transmission lines*???

  15. “…eventually Obama and his Administration will make missteps that even the most liberal papers cannot ignore.”

    I think you seriously over-estimate how much and for how long the media will ignore and whitewash the Bamster.

    Then again, “eventually” could mean, well, anything at all. Hopefully, the msm demise will come soon. I’ll be the one front and center, clapping.

  16. “his turning our economy into a third world banana Republic that is even worse than Zimbabwe’s”

    Beyond. Parody.


  17. Thanks to all for the comments — even the guy who thinks we’d be better off with Zimbabwe’s economy.

    HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Zimbabwe’s central bank released a new $50 billion note Monday — enough to buy three newspapers in the nation’s hyper-inflated economy.

    Me: Even in just a day since posting this, I’m beginning to wonder if I should be backing off of supporting Geithner. At first it felt like a kind of Zoe Baird nanny problem, which on the malfeasance scale I equate to smoking a little pot in college. But it’s starting to look more serious than that.

    I think it’s unrealistic to ding Geithner for not preventing the financial crisis — we need a Treasury Secretary who understands the markets, and Geithner certainly fits the bill. And the difference in press treatment between Tim the Democratic Bank Regulator and Joe the Republican Plumber remains stark.

  18. @Anonymous
    January 16, 2009 10:41 PM

    “It will take 50 years to fix everything done by Bush”…blah blah blah”

    You need to get beaten with a large clue bat. Talk about large scale corruption: Bubba Clinton and Al Gore did such a fine job committing treason (Chinagate), and using the Oval Office for a myriad of felonies (Travelgate, FBIgate), that you should have been as busy as a one-legged person in a butt-kicking contest. Clinto, Gore and Reno belong UNDER LEAVENWORTH.

    This so-called “banana republic” in spite of its ups and downs, has one of the worlds best economies. I don’t see you standing in line for a one-way trip to Zimbabwe.

    Shredding the Constitution? I assume that’s a hissy fit over FISA, which incidently, has been quite successful in thwarting terorist attacks on this country for the last seven years. The NSA is not interested in your phone sex, ok?

    Newsflash on ‘the world hates us’ mantra: Terrorists and Euro effetes existed long before we fought back against the Islamofascists who slaughtered 3000 people on this soil. Wanna know ehy they ‘hate us’? Read the Koran sometime. I’m an Iraq War vet, and ingrates like you make me sick.

    As for torture; You want torture, sweetpea? Try being trapped in a burning sky-scrapper 90 stories high thanks to a crash caused by Islamic thugs who used planes like human-filled missiles. There’s no escape except the choice of being incinerated to death or jumping out of a window.

    THAT is torture.

    If it takes waterboarding a terrorist scumbag to save American lives, then dunk away.

    As for Obama: welcome to 4 years of Socialist America.


    SFC Cheryl McElroy

  19. I just do not understand why we think people whose job it was to prevent this mess, and totally ignored it, will somehow fix this mess.

    Their lack of ability has cost me a LOT of money. And their bailout schemes will cost me a lot of money. My question: Where is this money going to? If I bought 300 shares of J.P. Morgan, and the stock has fallen 95% since then, somebody made some serious money off me. Who? Maybe guys like him? The guys who are charge with the creation and adminstration of an orderly market for securities? Geez, most of the bank stock I bought are down 80% or more. Wasn’t that his job, making sure the banks handled their affairs properly?

    I really think we need a change. Obama is not going to deliver on that promise, that’s for sure.

  20. Instapundit has sent me my first reader from Iraq – or at least I assume it came via Instapundit, since that’s the overwhelming source of my traffic today.

    Also today, first-ever visitors from Bermuda, Trinidad and Tobago, Pakistan, Ukraine, Guam, and US Virgin Islands. I’m now up to 79 countries that have visited this site, although some of those “countries” are Guam, US Virgin Islands, etc.

    I could sit here all morning watching the visitors thud into my Feedjit page every few seconds, but the Web Goddess reminds me that I promised we would work on cleaning the basement this morning. BBS.

  21. Summarizing “Anonymous” above: “It will take 50 years to fix everything done by Bush … for making the world hate us and want to kill us, which is why 9/11 happened …”

    Given that planning for 9/11 began in 1998, long before Bush was even nominated, I think we’ll have to find soimeone else to blame for that one. Like maybe the president who indiscriminately bombed an aspirin factory and and embassy, killing scores of innocents, to forestall his own impeachment?’

    Pray tell, what evil was Bush cooking up in Texas in 1998 that made bin Laden hate us so?

  22. I don’t think it will take 50 years for The One to fix everything Bush screwed up. In fact, he’s not even president yet, and he’s already plugged the Moselle River with 15cm of ice and the Oder with 50-mile-plus long ice floes. At this pace we’ll soon be back to the Eden of FDR’s 1937. As for the MSM suddenly re-finding its ethical compass: Nope. Can’t put that shit back in the horse. They’ve taken the king’s shilling and they’re now in for the duration, if only to save themselves. If The One stubs his (read: our) toes from his utter lack of exposure to responsibility and accountability in his public life so far; if his closest associates and senior advisors turn out to be crooks, swindlers, traitors, or worse; if His Washington turns out to be Chicago writ large, how can the MSM honestly report on all these things as being “news” (as in “newly-occurring”) when they’ve spent the past 11 months assuring us that such concerns were simply non-issues for The One?

  23. Geez people, what’s with the “Anonymous” comments, can’t you make up a name?

    I think Mr. “50 years” Anonymous is having us on… although I guess there are Troofers who think Bush caused 9/11…

  24. Hmm…I hear many people saying that the news media will eventually turn up the heat on Obama. KP says they will because of “natural competitiveness.”

    Maybe. And maybe I’m still feeling bludgeoned by the naked partisan bias for Obama the media displayed before the election.

    However, I say that the media’s loyalty to Obama and his various narratives (currently FDR) they participated in, will triumph over all. Plus to start criticizing him now will highlight their previous in-the-tankedness.

    But I’d love to be wrong about this.

  25. From one of the many Anonymous comments:
    “From the time of the Fed’s creation during the FDR regime, the NY Fed has always had the lead role in overall policy decisions.”

    The bill establishing of the Fed was signed by Wilson in 1913. The only thing that I remember when I visited his birthplace many years ago was a picture of him signing the bill. It may not be there now. See http://www.bos.frb.org/about/pubs/begin.pdf

  26. TigerHawk linked to my post, and argued that conservatives should not hope for the honeymoon to end, because we need an effective President. My reply below is cross-posted from his comments:

    If the honeymoon ends, it doesn’t mean that the marriage is over. Certainly the press is unlikely to ever become as hostile to Obama as it has been to Bush, and I would not want that. All I’m saying is that we will fairly quickly get to the point where the MSM will feel free to criticize The One.

    In my post, my main quarrel was with the press, not with Obama. I voted for McCain, but I generally like Obama and certainly feel better about him now than I did on election day. I hope and pray that he will be an effective President [read: Commander in Chief].

  27. Sergeant First Class McElroy, thank you for your service to our country, but we don’t beat trolls with clue-bats here, and we don’t bury politicians we disagree with under prisons. I’ll confess, however, that I did smile at the phone sex jibe. Hooah!

  28. Kirk,

    Thanks for the compliment. Just one point of contention: With Clinton and Gore it’s not a matter of ‘disagreement’ but felonies commited through abuse of the office. I’m inclined to believe those are prosecutable offenses.

    SFC McElroy (RET)

  29. The system took its best shot at Clinton in 1998-99 – after impeachment, the Senate voted 50-50 on one of the charges, 17 votes short of the two-thirds needed to remove him from office. What’s the benefit of continuing to hound him a decade later?

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