Monday, February 2, 2009

Do Washington elites pay taxes?

What happens when the representatives we put our trust in go to Washington? Is it the water? Is the air contaminated from the swamp gases that trickle up through the cracks in Washington’s mausoleum-type buildings?
Obama’s victory made Americans feel that America might again stand for equal and fair treatment. I thought for a brief moment that after the election-night speech in a Chicago public forum, we might be on the right track back to feeling pride in our country’s leaders.
To me, and many Americans, the election of Obama represented a moral re-awakening of America. In my naïveté, I thought that we had seen the end of the DOUBLE standard. There is one standard for the political elites and another standard for the people who pay their salaries.
Obama or his staff has nominated one, Tim Geithner, for Treasury. This position involves honest dealings in crucial financial matters. To the world and to my fellow taxpayers, this guy should be Mr Clean. He should symbolize the most honest and fair way of handling financial matters. He should also know his subject matter.
The public face that is presented about this candidate is that he is wealthy and knowledgable about financial matters. We are told that Obama aides “said they didn't think these issues would present a problem, given what they characterized as the minor nature of the infractions.” Only in Washington is not paying taxes, twice (even after an audit), a “minor infraction.”
We are being told that if you get caught not paying taxes, not once but twice, it is OK if your “mistakes weren't intentional” and you are “contrite.” Instead of dealing with this matter openly, with the “transparency” Obama promised, our representatives take the wealthy tax cheat into a room closed to the public and press. For most Americans, public humiliation is part of the mia culpa. Not for the elites.
The specifics of how a wealthy knowledgable financial guy and his accountant can cheat we fellow taxpayers can be read in the press. It is just hard to believe that you and I would not end up in court after failing to understand that we must pay Social Security and Medicare taxes, even after we were caught once. Even if the future head of the IRS doesn’t know it, his tax preparer would know that Americans can’t deduct our child’s camp fees, early-withdrawal penalty from a retirement plan, a charitable-contribution of ineligible items, and utility costs.
Finally, as a knowledgeable and wealthy public servant, it is hard to believe that this guy would employ an immigrant housekeeper whose work-authorization papers had expired. Where was this person during the Clinton administration when we all learned that the wealthy keep illegal immigrants so they can pay less.
Would most Americans just assume they could get away with this kind of dishonesty? It is not a matter of degree. Yes, I agree the nominee is not a mass murderer. However, if Obama and our representatives support a nominee engaged in illegal acts, aren’t we continuing the same history as Bush and other elites: election by court order, evesdropping without court order, torture by any other name, intentional deception to make war, welfare for the wealthy, indescriminate spending, and poor judgement. Change was the keynote to Obama’s message. We want change. We don’t want the old DOUBLE standard that seems to infiltrate the hearts and minds of our representatives and Washington functionaries. We don’t want the morally suspect decision-making process that characterizes normal Washington activity. We don’t want “business as usual.” We don’t want “government by crisis,” when checks and balances (common sense) are put aside in the name of expediency. We want integrity back in government. Rewarding bad behavior in anyone (no matter how wealthy or knowledgeable) is the kind of activity we wanted Obama’s CHANGE to change.
Now another Obama nominee, Daschle, didn’t pay his taxes. This is the third person “too important to pay taxes” that Obama has put up. Where is the CHANGE we were promised. This is the old boy network again. Geithner, the new head of the IRS, was confirmed after deliberately avoiding his tax obligations. What does this say about our Congress? Obama continues to ignore breeches of character. Perhaps Congress people think it is OK not to pay because they don’t pay either.
Do any Washington elites pay taxes? Why am I paying taxes this month?