Geithner's Mistakes Weren't Minor, So Why Is the Senate Rolling Out Red Carpet for Him?

By Dan GainorVice President Business Media Institute

Timothy Geithner has to be one of the few people in America happy about Tuesday's stock market drop. Geithner, President Barack Obama's nominee for Treasury secretary, will likely coast to confirmation to run a department that includes the IRS, even though he himself didn't pay his taxes.

[caption id="attachment_6013" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Treasury Secretary-designate Timothy Geithner delivers his opening statement on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 21,2009, during his nomination hearing before the Senate Finance Committee. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)"][/caption]

That's certainly the way the Senate Finance Committee looked Wednesday morning. The Dow went into the red 323 points -- or 4 percent-- but that red turned into a red carpet during Geithner's confirmation hearing.

The extra red ink virtually ensures approval. But Geithner's mistakes weren't minor. "The Treasury Secretary nominee failed to pay self-employment taxes on his International Monetary Fund income from 2001 to 2004. Geithner has paid $34,023 in back taxes along with $8,679 in interest for the mistakes -- uncovered in part during a 2006 audit and in more fully in recent vetting by Obama's transition team," wrote the Jan. 15 Washington Post.

Committee Chairman Max Baucus, (D-Montana), made it clear that he viewed Geithner's problems as "innocent mistakes" and that the job of Treasury chief was to "restore confidence." While Baucus took some digs at Bush Treasury chief Hank Paulson Jr. about how little time he gave Congress to approve a bailout and the famous "three-page proposal," he took it easy on the nominee.

New York Democrat Sen. Chuck Schumer stressed "we need the very best" when supporting Geithner.

Even the GOP senators like ranking member Sen. Chuck Grassley, (R-Iowa), stressed "the nominee's troubled tax history," but had another obvious agenda -- having a better rapport with the new Treasury head. Several times during the questioning, senators pushed their own ideas about taxes or how to fix the economy. In virtually every case, Geithner responded by saying he would be happy to sit down with the senator and discuss it. After Paulson's refusal to even tell where TARP money went, it was the kind of cooperation the senators were seeking.

For his part, Geithner gave the requisite mea culpas saying, "these were careless mistakes" and "unintentional." "I take full responsibility for them," he stressed.

Dan Gainor is The Boone Pickens Fellow and Vice President of the Media Research Center's Business Media Institute.

Dan Gainor is the Media Research Center's Vice President for Business and Culture. He writes frequently about media for Fox News Opinion. He can also be contacted on Facebook and Twitter as dangainor.