Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, via the Associated Press, on "extending the Bush Tax Cuts," otherwise known as preventing a tax increase in the middle of an economic recession and struggling recovery.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Tuesday it would be "deeply irresponsible" for the Obama administration to support a wholesale extension of Bush era tax cuts, including breaks for the wealthy.
Geithner said in a nationally broadcast interview that President Barack Obama strongly believes those reductions should be retained for the "95 percent" of taxpayers with individual incomes under $200,000 a year and families below $250,000.
In more personal terms, I believe it much more "deeply irresponsible" to dodge the taxes you do owe, as Mr. Geithner did until it became untenable as the nominee for his current cabinet position.
Nobody likes a know-it-all, so perhaps there was some useful humanity in Tim Geithner's imperfect answers during yesterday's Senate confirmation hearings. The Treasury nominee faced questions about his failure to pay payroll taxes for several years, and he's lucky the votes on his confirmation will come from Senators, and during a financial panic, rather than from a jury of his taxpaying peers.
Perhaps the most embarrassing moment for Mr. Geithner was his attempt to evade the questions by Arizona Senator Jon Kyl on why he had only remedied the error on back taxes for two of the four years. Because the statute of limitations had run out on the 2001-2002 tax payments, Mr. Geithner was not legally required to pay them -- and didn't until a Treasury confirmation hearing seemed possible.
But instead of fessing up that he had obeyed only the letter of the law, he insisted yesterday that, gee whiz, the earlier tax dodge didn't even occur to him -- an excuse that came off as legalistic and implausible. His replies finally brought Mr. Kyl to insist, "Would you answer my question rather than dancing around it -- please?"
Mr. Geithner replied that "I did not believe I was avoiding my liability," and that he had worked in government his entire life and "would never put myself in the position where I was deliberately not meeting my obligation as a taxpayer."
Right. Mr. Geithner, allow me to advise you on some terminology that may help your concept of responsibility, both governmental and personal. "Allowing the Bush Tax Cuts to expire," after the current tax rates have now been in place for 7 years, is in reality a tax increase. "Extending the Bush Tax Cuts" is really preventing said tax increase. Most importantly, "meeting your obligation as a taxpayer" means paying what you owe. And I shouldn't have to tell a treasury secretary that.
You want to be responsible? Don't raise taxes during a recession. Instead, ease back on the clearly non-stimulative governmental spending. That would be responsible government.