Thursday, February 05, 2009

Another One Bites the Dust

Isn’t the real problem (aside from arrogance, hubris, and an aggrandized sense of entitlement), that the tax system is so complicated no one can figure it out – not even the people who oversee it. Although admittedly, I was shocked when Timothy Geithner said that did his taxes himself and he used Turbo Tax to do it. It doesn’t pass the laugh test for me. When I got divorced, I had never even seen a tax form—my husband took care of that because he got 800’s on his SAT Board scores and I couldn’t add 2 and 2. I was living in my car, had never made more than $12,000 a year, but I knew I had to pay taxes—even then, I paid someone to figure out what I owed the government. It was so little I got audited, but that’s not the point. Although the auditor, Mr Epperidge, (I’ll never forget the name or attitude), seemed delighted that I had no income. Nevermind, we all know that we have to pay taxes -- it’s the American way. It’s what keeps the nation in business, allows us to make war and nuclear weapons, and yes, allows us to retire and be on Medicaid. Well, that was a leap from sad story to, too depressing for words.

Back to the latest appointee fallout. The new President says he screwed up. I love the “buck stops here”, but who really screwed up? I think I know. In their haste to fill positions, the powers that be looked at who made the most sense politically. Then they called those people and said, “would you like the job?” OK it doesn’t happen exactly that way in Washington. What happens is people ‘think’ they want to serve the public good. They want to be involved with an Administration that appears to want to make a difference. “Yes We Can”. Then the phone calling begins. People who want jobs call people who know the people who are selecting people that get jobs. The ‘wanter ‘ indicates an interest. The wantee’s indicate a possibility. Then the lobbying begins – it’s not paid lobbying but it is lobbying on a whole other level. The lobbyists may have a vested interest— like if their candidate gets the job they will have access to the White House. Or they might just want to help a friend. Or even more bizarre, they want to help the nation – this is always suspect, but it can happen – in our dreams.

Where are we? OK the people who are doing the selecting know who is interested. This is critical, because you never want to appoint someone who is not interested. We haven’t even begun to do any clearances or questioning about background. All we have is an indicated interest and experience that does or doesn’t match the job. What are we waiting for, the reality. Let’s talk about background checks. Given the Zoe Baird (nanny gate) controversies, we assume that the people who want jobs know that they have to pay taxes for household or personal help. In other words, even if a private business pays for your car, you have to pay taxes for your driver. In addition, you have to make sure both you and your husband or wife, has also respected the rules and paid whatever needs to be paid. Apparently, Hilda Solis’s husband didn’t get the memo. He had liens against his business and who knows what else. Geithner paid some taxes for some years but not others—I guess that Turbo tax was selective in the programs they designed. It doesn’t matter because he got confirmed—and that doesn’t pass the laugh test either, but what do I know.

The irony of all this is that Richardson, who the wantee’s knew had problems, would probably had made it through a confirmation because his problems were not tax related—they were just questions of ethics. Are you as tired of following all of this as I am? Then let’s wrap up with some questions.

How does a person get nominated before there is a background check? How does a person who wants to get nominated not realize that there will be a background check which might be embarrassing for the President? How, in these most sensitive times, do we select people who are that out of touch with the “change” the President talks about? I can’t answer those questions because it beyond my comprehension. I remember when, in the Clinton Administration I was approached about a Senate Confirmation. I wasn’t sure I would pass the test. “Well I guess I could get confirmed, because my campaign chickens weren’t illegal or immoral. And I don’t think you get eliminated for having a sense of humor. Besides, I have a letter from President Bush (1), that says what we did was in the best spirit of American politics”. It never occurred to me that I could get away with not paying taxes or having questionable ethics. But I guess I was also not a person who looked perfect on paper. And I will be forever grateful that when they looked at me on paper, it was never the measure of who I really was. We’re just sayin’....Iris


Anonymous said...

Like others, I pay quite a bit in annual taxes..That always places me out of the running for cabinet positions... lol


Unknown said...

I hate a tax dodger as much as the next guy but I heard an essay by NPR's Scott Simon that gave me pause. Perhaps I'm getting softer as I get older. Or maybe the past eight years have left my - well, I don't know - but it's worth a read anyway: Scott Simon - A Simpler Tax Code

Iris&David said...

thanks chad it was worth the read.

Anonymous said...

I want to help... :(
Matt (Italy)

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