Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Accounting 101

Ezra just nails the Daschle / Geithner tax fiascoes for what they really are:
I don't think it plausible that guys with the fortunes of Tom Daschle and Tim Geithner and the ambitions of Tom Daschle and Tim Geithner sat down one night and decided to crudely defraud the government of somewhere between $40,000 and $130,000 in tax revenues at the potential cost of their future Senate confirmations. Indeed, I doubt that they spend a lot of time on their taxes at all (though Geithner apparently keeps records in Turbotax). Both have enormously complex income streams with various employers, consulting gigs, speaking fees, and who knows what else. Maybe, in Japan, Geithner endorses cereal. For that reason, both have said that they use accountants. But from afar, it sort of looks like their accountants are doing the thing where they help their clients pay the least money rather than the thing where they shore up their future political viability. What affluent future political appointees need is not accountants who eke out some savings but auditors who make sure they pay something close to the maximum. As the saying goes, the question isn't whether they can afford to do that. As we're seeing, it's whether they can afford not to.

I'm still not ready to give these jackasses a pass. Especially Daschle, who as a former Senate Majority Leader should be a savvy enough politician to make sure this shit is straight. Accountant or no, it's your return and your responsibility.

If you are still an active politico (even post-office) with the potential to be appointed to a cabinet post (or a judicial slot, etc.) you should keep your ass clean. Period. That means no affairs, no tax crap and no undocumented housekeepers. It might not be directly relevant to your future appointment, but it's sloppy and shows poor judgement—and you deserve to be called on it—if not disqualified for it.


UPDATE: This is fucking awesome*. You can't stop YouTube, you can only hope to contain it...

*For those not following this stuff closely, Daschle is in hot water for failing to pay taxes on $255,000 worth of being driven around in a private car paid for by someone else.


Toast said...

I basically have the opposite reaction. This is all penny-ante bullshit and after Bush got every imaginable incompetent criminal miscreant through confirmations without so much as a whimper of protest from the Dems I don't want to hear a fucking word about mistakes on peoples' tax returns.

Mr Furious said...

Yeah, well I hold my guys to a higher standard.

I had actually accepted Daschle as the choice for HHS, and even come to appreciate that he might be an excellent guy to navigate serious health care reform through the Congress, since he seems well-connected and well-liked and certainly familiar with the intricacies of legislation.

I'm not a Daschle fan, and never have been—he was as soft as Harry Reid as Senate leader, and I'm not comfortable with his industry/lobbyist ties nor his wife's. But I was interested in getting shit done, and so—I trust—is Obama.

All of that said, this episode has been telling—if Daschle's tax issues and conflicts of interest were as benign as portrayed by him and his supporters, he should have stuck this out. Uncomfortable and embarrassing for the short-term, but no one remembers any of the b.s. that goes on in a confirmation process a year later. Let the Becks and Hannitys get their yuks now, then move into office and get to work.

But Daschle crumbled. Either there's more to the tax story and he HAD to...or, he's not tough enough. If he couldn't weather this "penny ante shit" with the vocal bipartisan support he was getting, then he clearly wasn't the guy to butt heads and push serious reform through a resistant Congress.

And as bad as all of that, his biggest sin, to me, was making Obama look like an ass. He undermined everything Obama is trying to do.


DED said...

I'm still not ready to give these jackasses a pass.

Nor I, for the reasons you gave.

I'm self-employed and though my annual income is a pittance compared to Mrs. DED, I make sure that I have everything covered and don't hide anything. If I ever lie, I know the IRS will be on me like white on rice.