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Question: If Barack Obama reminds you of Richard Nixon…

then who does Timothy Geithner remind you of?

Spiro Agnew, anyone?

Spiro_AgnewOn October 10, 1973, Spiro “Ted” Agnew became the first U.S. vice president to resign in disgrace. His resignation was part of an agreement with the Justice Department in which he pleaded no contest to income tax evasion charges stemming from contract kickbacks received while he was governor of Maryland and vice president. Fined $10,000, Agnew was placed on three years’ probation. (source)

More on Agnew:

After Nixon and Agnew were elected to a second term, Agnew became the focus of an investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Maryland for financial irregularities while he held state office. Rather than face trial, Agnew resigned and entered a plea of no contest to charges of evading income tax. He was sentenced to three years probation and fined $10,000. After he left office Agnew avoided publicity and went into business as an international broker. In 1981 he was ordered by a Maryland court to repay more than $248,000 to cover bribes he took while in state office. (source)

I know, I know it is early days to be noting the resemblance.  Geithner has not yet held elected office and he’s already admitted to dodging the tax man. Difference from Agnew noted: Agnew didn’t pay up until investigated by DOJ and sued in Maryland. Yes, yes, Geithner paid up before a court ordered him to do so or a DOJ settlement has become necessary, but Geithner waited to pay his taxes until he got caught. Indeed he waited twice: first he paid up only upon an IRS audit; then he paid up again when it looked like this gig he wanted – Secretary of the United States Treasury – might be in the offing. (For clear reporting on the nature of Geithner’s failure to pay taxes – which types he did not pay, for example – go here.) And yes, I do understand that Agnew was a tax evader who did not claim any special expertise on financial matters, which makes him very different indeed from Timothy Geithner, somebody currently aspiring to be Secretary of the Treasury. If he does get the nod, I am sure that whoever becomes Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service – a post whose occupant reports directly to the Secretary of the Treasury – will gladly note all of these dissimilarities.

So let the record reflect: I am not saying that Timothy Geithner is as corrupt as Spiro Agnew proved to be or as unfit for the office to which he, Geithner, aims. It would be far too premature to make these claims.

(Cross-posted from Heidi Li’s Potpourri)

31 Responses

  1. of course… putting a tax evader in charge of the agency which oversees the IRS isn’t at all a problem or a conflict… not at all

  2. Does anyone really believe that any government agency will investigate any backtrack appointment?
    Government oversite as we knew is gone.
    It started going south under bush and will be finished under backtrack.
    This country is so screwed.



  3. We noticed Obama’s similarities to Bush 2nd and Nixon a year ago. It took millionaire media hacks like Frank Rich a year later to reluctantly admit to any similarity.

  4. This “tax problem” has always been a problem for everyone who has ever worked for the IMF — not just Americans, but everyone who has ever been employed by the IMF. The IMF treats every employee of every nationality as a contract employee and therefore responsible for his/her own filings.

    The point here isn’t that this was something that fell through the cracks, it was a willful act. The media accounts of this being an “oopsie” are galling especially since every media person and his dog have raved about how incredibly smart Geithner is. It seems as if intellectual honesty has befallen the same fate as the Geithner tax return.

  5. as if the man doesn’t have an accountant to do his taxes… puh-leeze!!! He’s the head of the Fed Bank of NY and he can’t figure out how to do his taxes? This is ridiculous, except he’s a man and not a woman, and he’s an insider not an outsider, so all’s well in Obambi-land

  6. I remember David Corn and Left generally ,busting Joe the Plumber’s chops because he owed about 1000 in taxes…horrors!

    But Geithner can own so much more and it’s okay ..in fact it’s thinking out of the box!!

    I’m soooo tired of the lies and hypocrisy. I have a long 4 years ahead

  7. As a very young single parent who many years ago was audited during a year that I filed as an independent contractor, this was appalling. I paid my self-emplyment taxes, as I always have, but made a minor error in the method that my mileage was computed, so owed a few dollars more, which was devastating to me at the time. Many Americans will be appalled at this irony, but it looks like he will pass through, as the Republicans (or obamacans) have said they are willing to make an exception due to our “trying times”. Sounds like the best time to have someone of integrity, rather than someone just for expeditiousness’ sake.

    btw, I grew up in Maryland during Agnew’s tenure as governor. We all thought he looked like a crook even before his VP job. I remember his omnipresent sing songy campaign ads “our kind of man, Ted Agnew is, our kind of man”. Never could figure out who “we” was.

    Hi, Heidi!

  8. Hi lillilam!
    I must get some sleep, early start tomorrow. And I confess I debated whether to post about this because after all the absurdity of the situation a) speaks for itself and b) I won’t be the only one, nearly, noting it. But I really believe that we have to witness wrongness, we have to say: this is wrong. Partly because if we don’t even try to speak up, we just let the crooks take over. Partly because if enough people speak up maybe just maybe this won’t get swept under the rug, although I fear it will. Apparently Geithner is going around acting “contrite”. Apparently that’s all it takes to pass muster when you are going to head Treasury and you can’t – make that didn’t – address what Prolix rightly pointed out is a tax issue that hundreds of Americans who work for the iMF address properly all the time.

    I want Sheila Bair to be appointed head of Treasury.

  9. I don’t care whether the jerk worked for the IMF or, for that fact had his own Amway distributorship. If he earned income he knew there were taxes due on that income. Further, if he was paid by check he had to have received some kind of pay-stub and if it didn’t show any withholdings then that should have been a BIG clue!

    To me the symbolism of the Treasury job is too important. If he didn’t pay taxes he’s not suitable to be appointed as Sec’y of the Treasury.

  10. Sheila Bair would be the one, I agree. I get that same sense of competence and integrity from her that I get from Hillary. Sheila is respected by many members of congress who actually want real answers to their questions. She is not being mentioned as a replacement that I know of.

  11. Off topic but scary stuff:


    courtesy of Liberal Rapture

  12. I’ve heard Sheila Bair has done an excellent job with the FDIC. But if she moves from there to Treasury, then she has to learn a new job, and someone at the FDIC has to learn her old job. So there is a factor of if the FDIC works, don’t fix it.

    HIllary and Bill may be able to use SOS as an Archimedes Point to save the world, but the more of their old Treasury people they have in their old Treasury jobs, or near, the better success the Clintons can have.

  13. When Geinther received a Form-1099 from the IMF to report his income to the IRS via his tax return, he knew it was employment earnings and not other various kinds of income such as royalties or farm income. I would like to know how he reported it (what type of income claimed in his return) because IRS gets a copy also which may trigger interface alerts if income is reported incorrectly. He told his tax accountant how to report it because they do not make these judgments on their own. Agnew hid illegal payments which is how they convict gangsters. In a way this is more blatant because he probably paid taxes on it but as another type of income at a lower tax rate. As for not paying taxes on a domestic, I suppose he doesn’t read the newspaper and see other people getting in tax trouble doing this. He knew what he was doing and I would like to audit him because he very probably has other tax issues.

  14. We only know of Agnew because the media was doing their job then. Now, not so much

  15. I know I’m late ; GREAT SHOW LAST NIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    As earlier I can’t believe the nerve of this failed media.
    They were horrible to a citizen like “Joe the Plumber”; for making a mistake on taxes. Then the man that is “supposed” to be “IN CHARGE”, gets a pass.
    Joe’s was something that he did not even know about.
    Tim G. knew what he owed & refused to make it right.

  16. It’s my understanding that, upon employment with the IMF, each employee must sign a document which states that the employee is aware that the IMF does not withold payroll taxes and that the employee is responsible for paying these taxes. I believe that is standard operating procedure for every contract employee no matter where you work.

    How can this man claim that he overlooked paying his taxes and expect to be appointed to a cabinet position? Does anyone believe that, if the same transgression was discovered about Hillary, she would be confirmed as Sec of State?

  17. Fredster at 2:49am. Thanks for the info. We can only hope that local and state party members put the kibosh on this power grab.

  18. In addition to failing to pay payroll taxes, Geithner took deductions for sending his kid to camp. From today’s NYT editorial…

    On returns for 2001, 2004 and 2005, Mr. Geithner wrongly claimed expenses for sleep-away camps in calculating his dependent care tax credit. The accountant who prepared his 2006 return informed him that payments to overnight camps were not allowable expenses, but again, he did not file amended returns for the previous years at that time. The report does not break out the taxes and interest on that item alone, but along with other adjustments, Mr. Geithner owed an additional tax of $4,334 and interest of $1,232.

    I’m going to amend some of my previous tax returns to get deductions for all the times my daughter went to Girl Scout camp. Hey, why not?

  19. Isolde, I was listening to NPR at lunch yesterday. He actually received a W2 from the IMF, but according to US law, a foreign entity, which I guess the IMF is classified as, cannot withhold Social Security and Medicare taxes. However, the real kicker is not only is it supposedly made very clear to employees how the tax situation works, there is a big notice printed on the W2, and each IMF employee is given an extra amount of money just to pay the taxes. The speaker was saying that whatever amount of salary an employee is hired with, the amount is adjusted upward by the amount of tax that would be owed.
    He has absolutely no excuse. Its textbook tax evasion.

  20. Fredster, Obama is copying what the Republicans have done for years. Their grassroots network of mainly Christian conservatives have had a huge impact on our policies and have done this with little media recognition. Ever notice how many right wingers call in to CSpan’s Morning Journal? The right would notify their people in advance urging them to call in. And they distributed talking points, which is why callers so often sounded like brainwashed pod people. It was so bad that CSpan had to introduce separate phone lines so others could get through. This went on all through the nineties with NO response from Democrats.
    So this grass-roots organization by Obama gives me mixed feelings. People do need to realize that if enough of us contact our reps, we can actually overcome the influence of big money – because ultimately they need our votes. It was this kind of grass roots action that make the FCC back down on some of its pro-industry proposals. And Dems need to counter the right’s strong grass roots,lobbying network.
    On the other hand, if Obama does what the right did – organize people who are ignorant of the issues and therefore easily manipulated, this will be just as dangerous for democracy as what the right has been doing. Democracy needs citizens to speak out but it is not helpful if those citizens are blinded by propanganda.

  21. As for Geither, read this. There is more to the story than we are hearing.

    And for those of you interested in psychology, how about these two statements made recently by Bush when asked to reflect on the past 8 years?
    Referring to throwing out the first ball at the World Series :
    “I never felt that anxious any other time during my presidency, curiously enough.” Curiously? How about callously”
    And then there is this:
    “Every day has been joyous,”

    I would like to hear what the 9-11 Widows have to say about these statements.

  22. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123194884833281695.html

    It’s possible some of Mr. Geithner’s problems stemmed from bad advice. In 2004, an accountant advised Mr. Geithner in writing that he did not owe employment taxes. An accountant who reviewed Mr. Geithner’s 2001 tax return also didn’t inform Mr. Geithner he owed taxes, according to an Obama aide familiar with the situation.
    Tax professionals noted that even trained preparers sometimes miss the subtleties involved in taxation of employees of international organizations.The IRS in late 2006 launched a settlement initiative aimed at noncompliant employees of foreign embassies, as well as international organizations such as the IMF. At the time, the IRS said as many as half of affected employees were out of compliance with tax rules in one way or another.

  23. I find your ideas intriguing and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

  24. He has housekeeper problems too — didn’t that issue take down two women in nannygate in the Clinton years?

  25. Zoe Baird was one of them – this is much more serious – oops forgot – he’s a man!

  26. fsteele said: At the time, the IRS said as many as half of affected employees were out of compliance with tax rules in one way or another.

    Yes, but the vast number of those out of compliance were lower level employees, (houskeepsers, gardneers, etc) not financial professionals – sorry that excuse doesn’t seem to fly.

  27. Is this how all these incredibly smart ‘professionals’ got through their elite schools? “The dog ate my homework.”

  28. I believe we should all email our statements about this travesty to our State Senators and Representative -as well as those serving on the committee that are not our representatives and let them know we are peering over their shoulders and expect them to do the right thing.

  29. Ooooh, Fran – you figured it out

  30. Joanelle, on January 15th, 2009 at 11:24 am Said:

    YES. This is exactly what we should be doing.
    Particularly after the IRS audit which revealed the IMF failure to pay taxes impropriety, it simply strains credulity to think that that these are honest mistakes that any reasonably competent professional could have made.

    The wait to pay the second batch of unpayed taxes (from the years not within the scope of the IRS evidence) shows a flagrant disregard for the law. We’ve seen what a country led by people who think they are above the law gets up to – must we begin a new administration on such a note?

  31. BernieO, on January 15th, 2009 at 8:55 am

    Yeah, but Bernie this is the scary part to me:

    In what would be another unprecedented step, Obama’s political staff is deciding whether to create a service organization that would use the vast corps of its grass-roots campaign supporters. As described by one source knowledgeable with the discussions, this nonprofit arm would be used to help victims of natural disasters, but would do so under the Obama umbrella while continuing to build the overall network’s massive e-mail database

    As someone said elsewhere about this: so do you want the Obama emergency trailer or the one from FEMA? And what would Obama’s disaster group make help to you contingent on?

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