21 January 2009
Geithner: "I forgot my taxes, but let me run the economy anyway."
Timothy Geithner, the Secretary-designate of the Treasury, was reportedly very apologetic during his appearance before the Senate committee today. Luckily for him, the committee appears to be very forgiving. Maybe when you're in the upper echelons of society, such slips as a failure to pay Social Security taxes and such to the tune of thousands of dollars are "understandable mistakes," but Mr. Geithner probably should not expect such forgiveness from the lower ranks, where the amounts he "forgot" are equivalent to or greater than someone's annual income. This is not an issue of envy, which is what Republicans might say if Geithner had been their man, but a matter of attention to detail. This man wants to be Secretary of the Treasury during an economic crisis. In the public mind, he's applying to become the national C.P.A. Do the people really want a man for that job who "forgets" tax payments every so often? The point isn't whether we presume that Geithner's corrupt, but whether we can believe that he's competent. Since he's been closely involved in the Bush administration's efforts to cope with the crisis, we may well wonder about his competence. But deference is the order of the day, since the new President has deemed him fit for office, and who are U.S. Senators to question his will? Geithner, I fear, is proof that whatever change has taken place in government is only skin-deep.