January 13th, 2009
05:45 PM ET
13 years ago

Obama team defends Geithner

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/13/art.geithner.gi.jpg caption="Geithner is Obama's Treasury Secretary nominee."](CNN) - President-elect Barack Obama's transition office defended Treasury Secretary-designee Tim Geithner Monday amid reports he failed to pay the correct amount of taxes for a period of time and employed a housekeeper whose work authorization had expired.

"The President-elect chose Tim Geithner to be his Treasury Secretary because he's the right person to help lead our economic recovery during these challenging times," Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said in a statement. "He's dedicated his career to our country and served with honor, intelligence and distinction."

According the Wall Street Journal, Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley - the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee - raised questions Tuesday about the status of a housekeeper who briefly worked for Geithner.

Geithner himself also reportedly didn't pay Social Security or Medicare taxes for "multiple years," according to the Wall Street Journal.

In his statement, Gibbs said Geithner made a "common mistake on his taxes, and was unaware that his part-time housekeeper's work authorization expired for the last three months of her employment.

"We hope that the Senate will confirm him with strong bipartisan support so that he can begin the important work of the country," Gibbs also said.

UPDATE: The Senate Finance Committee has released a document confirming Geithner failed to pay self employment taxes and employed a housekeeper whose authorization had expired.

According to the Obama transition team, transition officials discovered the problem on November 21, and notified the Senate Finance Committee soon after.  The committee's release says members were informed of the problem on December 5.

Filed under: Timothy Geithner
soundoff (199 Responses)
  1. CA Indie for Obama

    bush had many cabinet picks that went sideways...
    Miers, Bolten (recess appt), Brown etc.
    seems to me that this article should have been posted in Nov or Dec, so I wonder about CNN's timing of a story that is over a month old.

    so I guess my "comments awaiting moderation"
    if they are posted at all.

    January 13, 2009 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  2. Paulsons Bagman?

    Change?This was Paulsons bagman, or was he Bernachis shoe shine boy?I dont trust this guy as far as I could throw him and I voted for Obama.

    January 13, 2009 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  3. thomas

    The senate finance committee has know about all of this since Dec. 5th and they are now just bring it up why? If the Transition team and Mr. G eithner were the one who brought it to there attention then and he has paid all the raxes then what is the problem, I want to know who leaked the infro to the Wall St Journal. Any Republican want to step up.

    January 13, 2009 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  4. NM Ray

    I am a Democrat. I am proud I voted to get rid of the stupid incompetent crooks that the last Republican administration brought to Washington. I do my own taxes. I pay my taxes. I have always paid my taxes and – one time – I was informed that I had underpaid my taxes, I paid my taxes promptly.

    I think that I know at least a dozen CPA's in New Mexico who can pay their taxes correctly. There are probably many, many more competent people who could run the Treasury Dep't without any questions as to whether they had paid their own taxes and the taxes on their employees.

    Change means that now its time to do things right. Let's set an example for the Stupid Republicans.

    January 13, 2009 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  5. Ennis, LA

    Another Obama scandal...yikes! First Richardson, now this.
    Not to mention the flap over his successor! Barrack...you
    should have waited till you got sworn in first before you show
    a lack of preparation and maturity.

    January 13, 2009 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  6. Alex from Texas

    Maybe the immigration certificate of his housekeeper will be found in Hillary's office after the investigation is over on this one as well.

    Clinton lost Mike Espey and Henry Cisneros in the early part of his admin as well for stupid stuff. Dems or Repubs...it's all the same.

    "Change is relative"...there is no change here.

    January 13, 2009 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  7. Timothy

    I just love watching the Obamabots people start throwing out the excuses and saying that Americans should rally behind him and than blaming republicans in the same sentence. HeHeHe If this were a republican, they'd be calling for his head. Breaking the law is just that, it doesn't matter if you're republican or democrat.

    January 13, 2009 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  8. Ernie in LA

    It's amazing to read the comments from people who voted for Obama that are disappointed in him even before he takes office. I think there will be many more.

    January 13, 2009 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  9. Florida John

    Of course they found that it was a complete error. If he can not manage his own finances, how can he be incharge of ours???????????

    January 13, 2009 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  10. Waiting for Jan. 20

    Lifetime tax audits for everyone in this discussion thread! Yay! 🙂

    Just kidding!

    OK, it *is* unbecoming for a Treasury Secretary to have not paid taxes for a period of self-employment and for a housekeeper. It's natural to wonder if he'll mess up with details of managing the Treasury Department, too.

    On the other hand, I wonder if the pool of people qualified to be a Treasury Secretary includes anyone who hasn't neglected (or intentionally avoided) paying some taxes. Affluent people really seem to have trouble paying taxes for their housekeepers and gardeners! LOL!

    January 13, 2009 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  11. jaye

    This is much ado about nothing.

    January 13, 2009 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  12. Tate

    Is there anybody Obama know that is not a crook! What a mess this is and he has not even gone to Washington yet.

    January 13, 2009 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  13. Larry Diguardio

    Obama has never been concerned with crime, having come from that hell-hole of Chicago where "everybody does it" - did he, too? So what: a little crime here or a little crime there? This is the best he can come up with?

    January 13, 2009 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  14. No Hillary = No Obama

    Double standard? I am supposed to pay quarterly taxes. When I can't – I file my income tax and ask for the installment plan. Usually, the IRS is agreeable. However, if a payment is late or missed – they are right on it – if it goes on too long, the threats start coming – liens, bank account seizures – they don't fool around.
    So this guy doesn't pay thousands of dollars in income tax for several years and the IRS is clueless? Yeah right. Good pick Obama.

    January 13, 2009 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  15. Bill

    I have a problem with anyone holding public office that does not pay their income taxes, but especially in his role as Treasury Secretary. He will be in charge of IRS and Social Security. Will he let other people slide, too? Hiring employees is complicated, but there are responsibilities that need to be attended to. I do not need a Saint to be in office, just an experienced taxpayer.

    January 13, 2009 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  16. Gretchen

    Imagine that ANOTHER corrupt politician. Turn on the lights at the Obama cabinet meeting and they will all scramble under the cabinet.
    There is no change here–same old crap. Then you have the Bill and HIlliary show brewing along with the old team of characters from the Clinton administration. I suspect there will be a "buyers remorse" here shortly with this administration.

    January 13, 2009 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  17. Sam

    when you work for the IMF you don't need to pay income taxes. once geithner relaized that he hadnt been paying social security payments either, however, he paid back what he owed PLUS INTEREST.

    as for the illegal employee: she worked for him LEGALLY for (i think) three years. her green card expired. 3 months later she became a citizen.

    yeah, two mistakes. but not the end of the world.

    January 13, 2009 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  18. No laughing matter

    What a JOKE! This is unbelievable to say the least! Shame on Obama and his "vetting" process. How can Obama honestly think that a man who can't take care of his own finances can take care of our withering economy?? Everyday it looks like Obama is more of the same; He is still better than McCain would have been though. Just goes to show there really is no hope for America's future unless there is a total shift of power in Washington to good, pure, unselfish, honest, and intelligent men who aren't motivated by politics but are motivated by the love of our country to better it at any cost even at their own careers. Until that happens I hold no hope. This is just stupid!!

    January 13, 2009 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  19. Evan

    Why pick him? He can't figure his taxes. Let's get someone from H&R Block – they got people that can figure taxes.

    We need the best and brightest to move the country out of the economic problems. He might be the greatest sweetest man on earth but if he can not catch the details of his own taxes and makes a $43,000 mistake do we want him to be in charge of $1 Trillion in Bailout/Stimulus?

    January 13, 2009 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  20. Rick

    You'd think after this DQ'd 2 Clinton nominees in 1993, they'd learn.

    January 13, 2009 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  21. John G

    How's that for economic recovery? Don't pay your taxes and hire illegal immigrants to work for you-you'll have plenty left over at the end of the day!

    January 13, 2009 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  22. gregg45

    dont worry .. the almighty will just veto veto,,, veto,,, already ... with the vetos,,, this will be the reign of the vetos,,, i am so glad i changed my vote last year,,, first time in 30 years,, i see a fake when one speaks,,, so ,, hope it all happens for you all on the day of infamy,, hope you get what you wished for the next day

    January 13, 2009 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  23. Larry

    There's nothing unusual or wrong with tax evasion is there?

    January 13, 2009 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  24. MEP

    They will have to turf Geithner (he really should honorably resign) and face the fact that their vetting process was really the" Old Washington " in cya mode.Cut these losses and move forward. Obama needs to read Mark Twain's " The Gilded Age". Not much has changed. Obama must swiftly cut the diseased part of his team away if they will not go. Many exceptional others await his summons.He needs to show the leadership he promised the American people.

    January 13, 2009 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
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