Barack Obama campaigned for president on the slogan, “Change You Can Believe In.” No one suspected he was referring to people who believed in tax fraud.
Timothy Geithner was named Treasury Secretary despite his failure to pay $43,000 in taxes. The World Bank even gave him the money and said, “This is for your taxes.” Now he’s tasked with solving the baking crisis, allegedly because he’s the only person who fully understands it. How good do you feel about that?
Tom Daschle’s first speed bump on the road to being Secretary of Health and Human Services came when word got out he owed $140,000 in back taxes. Tom didn’t think a free car and driver counted as income. His former peers in the Senate rallied to his defense, said it was an honest mistake: the tax code is complicated on such matters. Tom was only about to be tasked with guiding universal health care through the rapids and eddies of becoming law.
Hilda Solis’s nomination to be Secretary of Labor has been delayed because her husband’s business has outstanding tax liens totaling $6400. A small sum for a business, to be sure, but some have been outstanding for sixteen years. Hubby claims this is the first he’s heard about them. Mail delivery must be pretty bad in their neck of the woods.
Nancy Killefer, nominated to essentially be head of quality control for the government, bailed when her tax lapses came to light, though they were the most easily understandable of the lot, failing to file Social Security tax for domestic help. Not excusable for someone looking for the job she was about to hold, but no great benefit to herself.
These episodes tell us several things, all of which will be explored in more detail as time goes on and I get more pissed off.
1. The Obama Administration’s promises of running a more competent government shouldn’t be taken too seriously. Someone hasn’t been doing their homework if all of the above were nominated for important and sensitive posts despite tax situations that might be considered felonies for you or me.
2. The change we can believe in will not extend so far as to disrupt the society of privilege. Americans claim to be a classless society because we have no official royalty or nobles, yet wealth and power decide who does, or does not, obey the law or ethical standards. Miss payments on a billion dollars of commercial real estate and the banks will come to you with refinancing plans. Miss payments on a $200,000 home mortgage and your ass is in the street.
All of the above make it a good bet the stimulus bill under consideration in Congress won’t be enough. The Democrats ladled in too much pork and too many pet projects that should have been discussed on their own merits. Republicans demanded too many tax cuts, which don’t stimulate as well as spending, can’t be targeted (since we can’t control what people spend the money on), and won’t help the people who need it most: the unemployed don’t pay much in taxes because they’re not making any goddamn money.
Bailing out the banks kept them afloat, and might have kept the rest of us from going under with them; that’s what we keep hearing. If you’re looking for positive results from the first $350 billion we took from our children to give to the banks, keep looking; John Thain’s office might be a good place to start.
This is about the sixth time I’ve begun this topic. I never posted because I never found a satisfying way to end it. I still haven’t.