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Political commentary from Andrew Malcolm

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Move along, folks. Nothing here but the tax truant Obama wants at Treasury

An open stretch of Interstate where speeding and not paying income taxes is easy

So there we were driving along on the interstate enroute to do a public service TV ad about safe driving practices for regular Americans who didn't go to Harvard and once worked for the World Bank and we were getting directions to the studio on a cellphone. And a state trooper made us late by pulling us over.

It seems he thought 80 miles an hour in a 65 zone was excessive and it also seems that using a cellphone and texting blog items while driving is now illegal for some inconvenient government-imposed reason. Also something about wearing a seatbelt.

All of which we knew because we speak English often and have noticed the seatbelt and speed signs every 150 feet acrosPresident-elect Barack Obama's nominated Timothy F. Geithner as Treasury secretary but turns out he was way behind in paying his own taxes to said Treasury Departments America. But we were busy with our own work, which is more important than some silly rules clearly written for other more simple people to obey. And our legal record is exemplary, except for that neighborhood association letter about the hockey net in the driveway.

As soon as the trooper caught us red-handed, we told the officer with the large gun and one-way sunglasses that it was just an honest mistake.

Which we would correct immediately by hanging up, logging out and buckling up. How's that?

And you'll never guess which senate cloakroom he told us to shove that into.

Anyway, what we were blogging was the news that the Senate nomination hearing for Barack Obama's Treasury secretary-designate Timothy F. Geithner has been delayed.

So now he won't be sworn in until after the Great Changer's inauguration ceremony next week. If ever.

Geithner is a huge expert on money, having run a Federal Reserve Bank and planned important parts of the important economic stimulus package for the important president-elect to impose on regular people.

But someone pointed out to Geithner that he had a little issue about employing a housekeeper who became an illegal immigrant and that he knew so much about money that he did not pay his own income taxes.

Who in this busy life would ever think of paying income taxes each April? There's never anything about April 15 in the media. And who's got time to read that stuff anyway when you're busy coming up with financial rules for other people to obey?

That missing unpaid tax sum is now up to $48,000 with interest and penalties -- owed, by the way, to one of the departments that Geithner would run if he ever became Treasury secretary. All because of some silly laws written by government for unimportant, unhurried people to obey.

Now that it's come out, Geithner says it was an honest mistake. And transition people told senators more than a month ago. Which means, what -- the watchdogs were busy doing their taxes?

And today the president-elect said the same thing, that it was all unintentional. Nothing much here. And Obama added that once caught, Geithner paid the tardy taxes in full.

So what's the problem that a would-be Treasury chief violated tax laws? Let's get on with the confirmation hearing because he's a really smart guy who's done good things. And he's a Democrat who can be excused such trivial oversights. The same way, say, Rep. Henry Waxman would overlook a similar problem of Dick Cheney's.

Geithner is so smart, in fact, that he'll probably grab a bus over to that Senate cloakroom someday soon.

-- Andrew Malcolm

Yes, of course, the Ticket can peek into anyone's tax records. But what's important is that you avoid any embarrassing difficulties by registering here for cellphone alerts on each new Ticket item. RSS feeds are also available here. And we're on Amazon's Kindle as well.

Top photo: Associated Press

Bottom Photo: Treasury secretary-designate Timothy F. Geithner. Credit: Joe Tabacca /  Bloomberg

Comments () | Archives (6)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Uh, Joe, even if it is a "mistake" doncha think the guy in charge of all the country's money should know better?

it's blatently wrong that a person who doesn't understand you have to pay self-employment taxes, and that if you employ someone you must also pay payroll taxes on your employee. this is a most unnecessary smudge on what i believe will be a change for the country. lose Timothy Geithner now. NONONONONO!!! there is so much evidence that crime pays government does nothing and Obama has the audacity of considering someone with a complet lack of competence/understanding that 'if you work in america you must pay taxes' (this coming from myself and my wife who have been self-employeed and have paid our taxes yearly. Timothy Geithner ever heard of the federal tax code and CPA's. Ah... Tomorrow it will be some other scandal in politics that I will have no logical answers to the questions i get from my son. It's bad and it's gettin worse.

A treasury secretary who fudges his taxes is bad, but a journalist who fudges his facts is nothing to admire either.

On several occasions Malcolm claims that Geithner employed an "illegal immigrant." Being authorized to engage in certain activities and being authorized to be in the country are not the same thing. So while she may have violated visa conditions concerning work, that did not make her an "illegal immigrant" unless she was actually ordered out of the country, of which Malcolm supplies no proof. The CNN article indicates that the housekeeper was married at the relevant time to a U.S. citizen, and it is common knowledge that spouses of U.S. citizens can overstay and get their status revised to a green card, so they are not "illegal immigrants" in the nasty, mean-spirited way Malcolm intentionally throws around the word.

I know you're "old-school" Malcolm but get with the program, it's 2009 and we live in a world with increasingly complicated borders, you can't just call people illegal immigrants and sneer at them anymore. The crazy thing about the law is, a lot of them can be broken and fixed, and so that's what lot of people choose to do. It's not evil or wrong, it's just how the system works. Your outrage is as cynical as it is misleading.

Hey Barny Frank would be a better choice than this guy Geithner, at least Barney frank is not a tax evader!!!

Richard is correct. Do not call his housekeeper an "illegal immigrant."

Call her a "criminal" and The Taxman was aiding and abetting her.

Kids, don't try this at home because you don't have friends in high places.

I am more concerned about his working relationships throughout the Big Bank Bailout with Rubin of Citi-Morg and Paulson at Goldman Sacks-USA. Looks like more of the same. I hope not. BTW, he paid his taxes.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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