Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Obama Cabinet Nominees Spoil New Criminal Rehabilitation Program

Just when we thought the highest ranking appointees in the Obama Administration were going to constitute the most elite criminal rehabilitation program in the nation two of the three charter members withdrew from consideration this week.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who failed to pay $43,000 in back taxes until his Senate hearing, was first to make it through the process in spite of the tax problem. Obama said it was no big deal and Geithner said he didn't understand that he owed the taxes, a bit scary for the next head of IRS. What would happen to you if IRS discovered you did not pay $43,000 over a four year period? Geithner gets to be US Treasury Secretary. You would get federal prison.

Then along comes Tom Daschle, the former leader of the Democrats in the Senate and Obama's nominee to fix the health care mess. Seems he was paid over $5 million for lobbying for health care companies in a couple of years though he never bothered to register as a lobbyist. That was okay with Obama. But IRS said he owed $143,000 in back taxes for failing to report a full time car and driver paid for by his lobbying firm. He paid that and once again everything was okay with our new king of clean government President Obama and he urged the approval of Daschle.

Would you get a cabinet post with Obama if you owed $143,000 in back taxes? Once again federal prison would be more likely. A third key Obama appointee, Nancy Killefer, picked for what he described as the most important new post in his Administration, the government's first Chief Performance Officer, then had to acknowledge she also owed back taxes but just $946.69, a miniscule amount compared to the tens and hundreds of thousands owned by the old boys.

Nancy did the right thing, she immediately withdrew from consideration. Thus one of the most prominent female appointees of Obama was the first to recognize her civic duty and dropped out. A few hours later Daschle followed suit, even though Obama and others all agreed it was not significant enough to warrant withdrawing from the race. So far the new Obama standard is key employees are okay as long as they don't steal more than $143,000 from the government.

On Jan. 21, the day after his inauguration, Obama issued an executive order barring any former lobbyists who join his administration from dealing with matters or agencies related to their lobbying work. Nor could they join agencies they had lobbied in the previous two years.

However, William J. Lynn III, his choice to become the No. 2 official at the Defense Department, recently lobbied for military contractor Raytheon. And William Corr, tapped as deputy secretary at Health and Human Services, lobbied through most of last year as an anti-tobacco advocate. Before the ink had dried the first waivers of the brand new executive order had to be granted to allow lobbyists to join his staff in top agencies. Didn't Obama get a lot of mileage smearing John McCain for having lobbyist in his campaign?

It just seems that those campaign promises for a new way to govern free of the influences of the past don't seem so real now. A new level of ethics promised has not materialized. In fact, far more promises have been broken than kept in the early part of the new regime. If there was any doubt about this ask the United Auto Workers at General Motors. The union was one of Obama's biggest supporters and were promised a bail out for the auto industry and told by the new president they were the priority of his administration. Today GM announced one third of the UAW workers must be laid off. That does not sound like they are being protected by the new president.

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