Let us assume that Timothy Geithner was telling senators the truth a few days ago when he claimed that his failure to pay $34,000 in taxes he owed from 2001-04 was solely because of "careless mistakes." If the man is no more careful than that with his own income tax returns, how is he to be trusted with the Treasury Department?
During a four-year period, Geithner failed to pay certain self-employment taxes he owed. He has known that for years - yet he finished paying his bill to the Internal Revenue Service just days before Barack Obama, then president-elect, revealed that he would nominate Geithner for treasury secretary.
During brief, perfunctory hearings before senators, Geithner insisted he was guilty of no intentional wrongdoing. He maintained that he simply didn't understand the tax laws.
Last week, the Senate voted 60-34 to confirm Geithner as treasury secretary. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, said he voted "nay" because of concern about Geithner's ability to handle one of the most complex agencies of government. "How can Mr. Geithner speak with any credibility or authority?" Harkin asked, rhetorically.
He's right. If Geithner is careless with his own finances, how can he be trusted with the nation's?