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)
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?