Half of Obama’s Cabinet resigns?

Just kidding — President Obama surely can’t be expected to hold the leaders of the executive branch to the same standard as government contractors. From a presidential memorandum issued yesterday:

I also direct the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, working with the Secretary of the Treasury and other agency heads, to evaluate practices of contracting officers and debarring officials in response to contractors’ certifications of serious tax delinquencies and to provide me, within 90 days, recommendations on process improvements to ensure these contractors are not awarded new contracts, including a plan to make contractor certifications available in a Government-wide database, as is already being done with other information on contractors. (emphasis added)

Timothy Geithner, Kathleen Sibelius, Hilda Solis, Ron Kirk — as long as they don’t try to do any work for the government, they should be OK. (And so would we, come to think of it.)

Look, it isn’t so much that requiring government contractors to pay their taxes is such an unreasonable policy. It isn’t so much that Geithner, of all people, would be charged with implementing this plan. I’m not even suggesting that all of these Cabinet members should have been disqualified because they made mistakes on their tax returns.

The problem is that the Cabinet members got the benefit of the doubt (well, these four did — Tom Daschle and Nancy Killefer weren’t so lucky; two out of six ain’t bad?) whereas ordinary citizens and companies don’t always benefit from such IRS understanding.

Perhaps the contractors at risk of losing government work will be given the kinds of second chances that Team Obama got. But why do I doubt it?

31 comments Add your comment

Hard Right Hook

January 21st, 2010
4:46 pm

70,000 pages of tax code and over 800 different IRS forms later…………………………….

Joan

January 21st, 2010
4:51 pm

The tax code is what you get when politicians are paid by the word. Send your kids to CPA school–there is a great future in it!

Davo

January 21st, 2010
5:08 pm

I’ve been in the unfortunate postion of having to defend myself against an IRS audit. For all the threats of penalties, and all the time I had to devote to proving my case (which I did win), at least the govt. didn’t swoop in to prevent me from earning my income because of the discrepency.

samuel

January 21st, 2010
5:09 pm

Kyle, have you ever heard of the connection between Haliburton and Dick Cheney? Haliburton has been ripping off taxpayers for 7 years in Iraq, and Cheney headed the company before he became Vice-President. Dick Chney was the most inept, corrupt Vice-President in the history of this country, and he sent thousands of American soldiers to their deaths. That’s much worse than making mistakes on your taxes. Where Cheney and Haliburton are concerned, it’s the ultimate conflict of interest.

TRESVANDYKE

January 21st, 2010
5:12 pm

WHO REALLY CARES??????????????

Hard Right Hook

January 21st, 2010
5:16 pm

The Vice President is incapable of sending any member of the Armed Services anywhere. The position has no constitutional authority to do so.

Only the commander in chief can send soldiers, sailors and airmen into harms way, and only Congress can declare war.

The GWB/war for oil buddies Dick Cheney/Haliburton routine is so passe. Try a different tack.

Allen

January 21st, 2010
5:21 pm

Daschle and Killefer (ostensibly) withdrew from consideration. Further, comparing individuals to businesses is not exactly apples-to-apples, especially when the contractors are delinquent to the tune of $5 billion against half a trillion dollars of annual business.

Road Scholar

January 21st, 2010
5:28 pm

Hard Right Hook: You didn’t see Bush II sit on Cheney’s lap and lip whatever Cheney wanted? What a vaudeville act! Cheney and the orig DOD head screwed the Iran war for the first 3 years. Why did it take so long to realize that? And you probably think wrastling is real!

Sunshine and Thunder

January 21st, 2010
5:32 pm

Samuel,

How has Haliburton (hired by no bid contract under Bill Clinton) ripped off the taxpayers?

Kyle Wingfield

January 21st, 2010
5:42 pm

Allen, I’m all for people paying the taxes they owe. But let’s not act as if $5 billion out of $175 billion (that’s $500 billion at the 35 percent corporate rate…though admittedly this excludes any applicable deductions) is some sort of Fleecing of America. Especially when the $175 billion is an annual amount and the $5 billion is a cumulative amount. We’re talking about less than 3 percent of the taxes owed, probably closer to 1 percent or less.

This is grandstanding, pure and simple, by the president — ludicrous grandstanding, really, considering it’s cast as “protect[ing] taxpayer dollars,” by an administration that squanders taxpayer dollars by the trillion. And it looks all the more ridiculous given the history of tax problems by Cabinet members that I outlined above.

The president definitely has a penchant for making people wonder if he thinks they’re too stupid to notice what’s going on.

Chris Broe

January 21st, 2010
5:49 pm

The wingnuts are having a field day dancing on the grave of the Obama Administration! I haven’t seen that much Republican foot stompin’ since the hidden camera video in the Minnesota Airport Men’s Room.

At least Obama isn’t peaking too early. Enjoy yourselves, my fine friends across the aisle. The pendulum swings both ways, just like you do.

Jklol

Hillbilly Deluxe

January 21st, 2010
6:07 pm

It’s the old “do as I say not as I do”.

Allen

January 21st, 2010
6:11 pm

Fleecing of America! Respectfully, you’re putting words in my mouth.

I see your argument as follows: “I object to Obama’s spending, so it’s ‘ludicrous grandstanding’ to take otherwise reasonable measures to protect taxpayer dollars. Further, because Obama has given latitude to Cabinet members with tax troubles, he will surely be punitive with business.”

Your column is predicated on a analogy that is poor at best and closes with unsubstantiated innuendo.

The American People

January 21st, 2010
6:17 pm

Down With Dems In 2K10!! Coakley was just the start ending with Teleprompter man in 2012.

samuel

January 21st, 2010
6:55 pm

Sunshine and Thunder @5:32pm, who was President when Haliburton was contracted to rip off taxpayers in Iraq? The year was 2003. Bill Clinton was not President, George W. Bush was. And Dick Cheney headed Haliburton before he became Vice-President. Made a lot of money too. If Haliburton had any contracts with the government before he became Vice-President, then Cheney can thank Bill Clinton for making him wealthy.

Michael H. Smith

January 21st, 2010
7:07 pm

Perhaps this weighs into your doubts, Kyle. It certainly does mine.

Supreme Court rules 5-4 to ease restrictions on spending by corporations and unions in political campaigns.

The voice of the individual suffers another squelching. Sad, so very sad, our Declaration of Independence was written to obligate government and those who would serve in it to individual rights, not group entities or identities of commerce, labor or any other.

Sunshine and Thunder

January 21st, 2010
7:16 pm

Samuel,

You didn’t answer my question. How did Haliburton rip off the government?

samuel

January 21st, 2010
7:58 pm

Sunshine and Thunder @7:16pm, Haliburton ripped off the taxpayers by overcharging the government for services in Iraq. An example would be overcharging the government for fuel deliveries. Another example would be going over budget while failing to rebuild Iraq’s oil infrastructure. Another example is being awarded a contract by the Department of Homeland Security to build internment camps similar to Guantanamo Bay. Yet another example is being awarded a contract to fight oil well fires, which happened in February 2003, the month before the start of the war. And the final example is Haliburton’s faulty work on the oil pipeline crossing the Tigris River at Al Fatah, which has rendered Iraq’s northern oil fields “barely usable” and limited Iraq’s access to international markets. This is what I’ve found in my research Sunshine and Thunder. Perhaps you should do your own.

Allen

January 21st, 2010
10:28 pm

Kyle, just for the record, I am grateful for your thoughtful commentary and especially appreciative of the way that you engage with readers.

Hard Right Hook

January 21st, 2010
10:38 pm

I can’t dignify your rambling blather with an answer. You’re a pure idealogue. Haliburton and Cheney will be whipping boys for the MoveOn.org and Daily KOS gang for years to come.

Greco wrasslin’ is real.

vracer

January 22nd, 2010
6:00 am

Demo fools seem to have idiots dispersed around the country ready to come to their defense no matter how irrational. But how did so many end up living in GA and writing to the AJC?

Jimmy62

January 22nd, 2010
7:11 am

THe difference is that Halliburton does not run the country. These proven tax cheats do, and thus we have unethical people in control of far, far more than $5 billion or whatever people are upset over Halliburton about. There’s a limit to how much Halliburton can lie, cheat, or steal, but for Obama and the cabinet, there’s almost no limit how much money their unethical behavior can affect.

Horrible Horrace

January 22nd, 2010
9:01 am

Hmmm…this could affect some minority contractors in a adverse fashion. Hope the presidential coconut thought this thru…NAH!

Democrats are Corrupt, Repukes are Lying Scum

January 22nd, 2010
9:51 am

Yeah, Tiny Tim got the benefit of the doubt when he deducted the cost of his son’s sleep away summer camp from his income taxes as a “business expense.” The rest of us would go to jail for that obvious tax cheating scam, but Tiny Tim the Tax Commissioner claimed “no one told me I couldn’t deduct it.” Hey Tiny, no one tells the rest of us anything either, we have to read the tax booklets and hire real tax people to do our taxes if we cannot understand the rules. Fire Tiny Tim now.

StJ

January 22nd, 2010
1:55 pm

Maybe Obama should protect some more taxpayer dollars by demanding that people pay the taxes rightfully due before appointing them to anything…oh wait, I’m sorry, that requires ETHICS.

BTW, the Senate should hold people to the same standard before confirming anyone to any position…oops, there’s that ETHICS thing again.

Obama seemed to be more concerned on whether people (and any member of their families) owned guns or not, rather than if they were tax-evading felons or not.

“Change” will come around to bite him in the rear.

BS Aplenty

January 22nd, 2010
2:03 pm

While I am greatful that the people of Massachusetts “sent a message” to Obama through Sen. Scott Brown’s election, I am also mindful that the state of Massachusetts and it’s voters helped put Obama in office. Those who call Georgians “stupid, illiterate and backward” ought to be aware that Massachusetts did have ’splaining to do after the 2008 presidential election.

Let’s just say they made a substantial downpayment on rectifying their mistake by electing Sen. Brown. Thanks Massachusetts. Keep up the good work, Georgia.

David Axelfraud

January 22nd, 2010
2:19 pm

Kyle

I am SO enjoying the left implode and attack each other. From Chris Matthews yelling at Howard Dean to Kieth Olbermoron calling the guy who just took Ted Kennedy’s seat a racist!

Great time to be a conservative!

Dusty

January 22nd, 2010
3:27 pm

Kyle,
You are absolutely correct. Everybody should pay their taxes. That goes for the President’s cabinent and the guy who bids on a road building contract. Why should there be any difference? We are not running a dynasty with perks but a republic with laws.

As to those of you who want to jump off the subject, Halliburton is one of the few largest companies in the world that can supply our armed forces anywhere they are located. They are not a non-profit organization but big business. they pay taxes. They spend a lot of money and they charge a lot of money to do this kind of work. They are not part of the President’s cabinet. If you know another USA company large enough to do the work that Halliburton does, please let the President know. I don’t think there is one.

Jess

January 22nd, 2010
3:51 pm

For all you Halliburton haters, here’s the scoop on no bid contracts. When there is only one company capable of doing a job, especially in a war zone, it is a waste of governments time and taxpayers money to go through the motions of bidding a contract. Halliburton, having worked in the middle east for many decades, has the skills and equipment to do many things very few if any other companies can do. They have the contacts to hire local workers, which is critical in the middle east, and the experience to know how to conduct business with the many factions one must deal with to get anything done. They have for many years had a management and physical infrastructure in the middle east.

Now for those who are bound and determined to think that this was all arranged by Cheney, then fine. Stew in your own juices. It is a fact, however, that you can’t just pull any company’s name out of a hat and expect them to provide logistical support in any middle eastern country. And no, I did not work for Halliburton, but I have worked in the middle east.

saywhat?

January 22nd, 2010
5:08 pm

Two questions to answer Kyle: 1) Are the cabinet members now in good standing in regards to their tax situations? 2) Does the wording in the memorandum ask to end existing contracts with tax delinquent corporations?

I’m pretty sure the answers are yes and no respectively. The memorandum refers to new contracts yet to be awarded. Those contractors who are delinquent in their taxes have now been put on notice. They ARE getting the second chance you claim cabinet members have gotten. Contractors can continue to perform any work and get paid from existing contracts, but have to get their act together before they can win new contracts. Sounds more than fair to me.

What a topsy-turvy world we live in when the President gets criticized even when he does something which everybody agrees is the right thing to do. If Bush 1 or 2, or Reagan had issued the same memorandum (and why the hell didn’t they? or Clinton?), the rightwingers would let loose a hallelujah chorus about conservatism and accountability and personal responsibility etc.

@@

January 22nd, 2010
10:28 pm

Kyle, as far as I’m concerned, anything President Obama does from this day forward is for political show. I don’t see how any American can trust him or his henchmen after all his dithering and disregard.

Wish I could’ve said something different. I’ve given up on him. All hope is gone.

We shouldn’t have had to force him into action.