Geithner not only leader with taxing questions

Timothy Geithner, the man President-elect Barack Obama nominated to be his treasury secretary, is in hot water — and his confirmation hearing has been delayed in the Senate — because he failed to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes for his housekeeper.

The delay on his confirmation is warranted. It’s more than a minor scandal when the man chosen to oversee the nation’s finances has trouble keeping his tax bill straight, even if he subsequently paid more than $42,000 in back taxes and late fees to the IRS.

At the very least, Geithner ought to undergo some very difficult questions about his view of the tax code and a citizen’s responsibility to pay taxes before members of the Senate decide whether to confirm him.

But Geithner isn’t the only national leader on finances who deserves to be questioned in greater detail. Rep. Charles Rangel of New York, who is chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee that oversees the federal tax code, was caught last fall for failing to pay taxes on a rental property he owns in the Dominican Republic.

Rangel paid $10,000 in back taxes last September, and basically received a free pass from his fellow members of Congress for his tax mistakes.

The Senate may yet decide that Geithner is unfit to become treasury secretary because of his tax problem. But we have argued since autumn that Rangel should lose his chairmanship of the important Ways and Means Committee with his tax problems.


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