After Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley rose questioned about Obama Treasury Sec. nominee Tim Geithner’s taxes and household help, Obama’s press secretary Robert Gibbs put out a statement sticking by their nominee.
The questions about Geithner revolve around his failure to pay Medicare and Social Security taxes for himself as both employer and employee while he worked for the International Monetary Fund from 2001-2004. There is also the question about Geithner’s employment of household help whose immigration status had expired for three and a half months.
Gibbs called the mistakes honest, “The President-elect chose Tim Geithner to be his Treasury Secretary because he’s the right person to help lead our economic recovery during these challenging times. He’s dedicated his career to our country and served with honor, intelligence and distinction. That service should not be tarnished by honest mistakes, which, upon learning of them, he quickly addressed. He made a common mistake on his taxes, and was unaware that his part-time housekeeper’s work authorization expired for the last three months of her employment. We hope that the Senate will confirm him with strong bipartisan support so that he can begin the important work of the country.”
I tend to give Geithner the benefit of the doubt on each of these, because it isn’t as if he hired illegal immigrants knowingly. It was a matter of a few months when an employee’s immigration status lapsed. That happens all of the time due to the processing time for visa extensions.
On the issue of the taxes, it seems that he didn’t know that while he was working for the IMF, he didn’t know that he was considered to be self-employed, which means that he has to pay the taxes on himself as both employer and employee.
I don’t see anything here that should disqualify him from serving as Treasury Secretary. This is an example of typical Washington confirmation politics. Geithner was a popular choice for the job, and unless there is evidence that these weren’t honest mistakes, he should be confirmed and allowed to serve.