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Posts Tagged ‘Tim Geithner’

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner may be most famous in the United States for cheating on his taxes (you can even buy a t-shirt to acknowledge his tax dodging), but he’s becoming a punch line in the rest of the world for different reasons.

I wrote two years ago about Chinese students erupting in laughter after Geithner claimed the Administration believed in a strong dollar.

Now he’s getting mocked by the Europeans.

After Friday’s post about the absurdity of Obama sending his Treasury Secretary to lecture the Europeans, you can imagine my great amusement today as I read that the Europeans basically told Geithner to go jump in a lake.

Here are some passages from the Reuters report.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s high-profile trip to Europe left some European officials more dumbstruck than starstruck. …”We can always discuss with our American colleagues. I’d like to hear how the United States will reduce its deficits … and its debts,” Belgian Finance Minister Didier Reynders said somewhat tartly. Jean-Claude Juncker, the chairman of the Eurogroup, was even more to the point. “I don’t think it would be wise for me to report from an informal meeting that we have with the treasury secretary. We are not discussing the expansion or increase of the EFSF with a non-member of the euro area,” he said.

And here is a brief excerpt from the Financial Times.

…some eurozone finance ministers hit back at Mr Geithner’s comments, questioning the usefulness of his visit. “I found it peculiar that even though the Americans have significantly worse fundamental data than the eurozone, that they tell us what we should do and when we make a suggestion … that they say no straight away,” said Maria Fekter, Austria’s finance minister. Sweden’s Anders Borg said: “we need to make progress, but it’s quite clear the US has a big debt problem and the situation would be better if the US could show a sustainable way forward.”

When the dust settles, though, the fact that Secretary Geithner is getting laughed at and mocked by people in other countries is not that funny. Not because he doesn’t deserve abuse, but rather because the bad policies of the Obama Administration are resulting in genuine hardship and suffering.

And the fact that the Europeans are even further down the path that leads to fiscal crisis makes it all the more tragic. You would think American policy makers would learn what not to do.

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I sympathize with almost all taxpayers, but it’s difficult to feel sorry for government workers who get in trouble with the IRS. Compensation packages for federal bureaucrats are twice as lucrative as those for workers in the productive sector of the economy and their pensions are similarly extravagant. Yet they often can’t be bothered to fully pay their taxes, owing billions of dollars to the IRS according to a Washington Post report. Among the biggest scofflaws are the folks at the Postal Service, who have accumulated more than $283 million of unpaid taxes. Retired bureaucrats, meanwhile, have amassed nearly $455 million of back taxes. Even tax collectors sometimes fall behind. Treasury Department bureaucrats owe $7.7 million. How hard can it be for them to walk down the hallway and cough up? Or do they think they’re exempt since their boss barely got a slap on the wrist after “forgetting” to declare $80,000? The most startling part of the story, though, is the degree of tax dodging on Capitol Hill. Here’s an excerpt from the story.

Capitol Hill employees owed $9.3 million in overdue taxes at the end of last year… The debt among Hill employees has risen at a faster rate than the overall tax debt on the government’s books, according to Internal Revenue Service data. …The IRS data…shows 638 employees, or about 4 percent, of the 18,000 Hill workers owe money, a slightly higher percentage than the 3 percent delinquency rate among all returns filed nationwide. …”If you’re on the federal payroll and you’re not paying your taxes, you should be fired,” [Congressman] Chaffetz said in an interview. He said the policy should apply across the board and “there should be no special exemptions.”

The shocking part about this blurb, at least to me, is not the 638 staffers who owe money to the IRS. It’s the fact that there are 18,000 bureaucrats working for Congress. Do 100 Senators and 435 Representatives really need that many attendants? How I long for the good ol’ days, when each politician had about two staffers. I suspect it’s no coincidence that the federal government was a much smaller burden back when there were far fewer staff.

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