Commentary Magazine


Flotsam and Jetsam

Well if he got the kids the darn puppy, maybe this problem could be eliminated.

Peter Baker thinks the Obama administration’s tax cheaters could well have a lasting impact. Well, it would help if the tax cheats stopped popping up.

For one thing, it’s called attention to the problems of the Democrat in the NY-20 race. His excuse isn’t holding up: “But according to copies of tax documents provided to Politico, two of the tax liens (totaling $744) were issued prior to the company’s merger with IXL Inc. in January 1998. And the third lien for unpaid sales tax, which totaled $20,800, covered a time period when the company was under Murphy’s management. The $20,800 lien was paid off five months late in December 1999, but the two smaller liens are still due.”

Is Tim Geithner on thin ice? “Geithner played by the prominent-people’s rules, cut corners on his taxes, found religion, said he was sorry, said he was sorry again, and won Senate confirmation as Treasury secretary by a vote of 60-34. It was the narrowest margin for a Treasury secretary in more than half a century. If Obama screwed up in nominating and backing Daschle, the former Senate majority leader who ponied up $140,000 in back taxes and interest, what does that say about his support for Geithner?”

Okay, Robert Gibbs is not Scott McClellan — but close. Notice the press laughing at him.

For an explanation as to why investors and businesses are still spooked look no further than some of the Democrats’ policy plans. Diana Furchtgott-Roth writes: “As well as protectionism, cuts in defense spending, unionization by intimidation, and arbitrary environmental standards, the economic stimulus bill would open the floodgates of deficit spending. The ensuing debt would burden Americans far into the future.The Democrats, who control both the White House and Congress, should know better. No wonder consumers are scared, financial markets are tumbling, and unemployment continues to rise.”

Remarkable: ”Eighty-one percent of Americans say the stimulus bill should be a bipartisan effort. Just 13 percent think it is okay for a bill to be passed with only the backing of the Democratic majority. There are signs that Americans are receptive to Republicans’ push to increase the proportion of tax cuts in the stimulus bill: Asked whether higher government spending or tax cuts for business would be more effective in ending the recession, 59 percent choose the tax cuts. Just 22 percent prefer more government spending.” And not surprising: “Nancy Pelosi is unknown to most Americans, but she gets a 3-to-1 negative rating from those familiar with her.” Must be those 500 million people who are losing their jobs every month.

I’m not sure the Obama team yet understands this: “Bipartisanship isn’t just Super Bowl cookies; it requires Mr. Obama forcing his own party to make ideological concessions.”

But the Democrats sure got Lindsay Graham revved up.

TNR is right that Labor Secretary nominee Hilda Solis has a tax problem (No, you can’t make this up),  but seems confused on what the job entails: “Given how integral job-creation is to the stimulus, it’s an especially inopportune time for the Obama administration to be without a Labor Secretary.” To be clear, the Labor Department has nothing to do with job creation. However, a number of policies including card check are indeed job killers. I bet the interim appointee could function for months, years maybe, without anyone much noticing.

On Afghanistan, Joe Lieberman wisely warns: “First and most importantly, we need a surge in the strategic coherence of the war effort. As we learned in Iraq, success in counterinsurgency requires integrating military and civilian operations into a seamless and unified strategy. In Afghanistan, we do not have in place a nationwide, civil-military campaign plan to defeat the insurgency.”

Aren’t you glad the politics of fear and polarization have been declared dead by the Left ? Someone should tell Paul Krugman: “It’s time for Mr. Obama to go on the offensive. Above all, he must not shy away from pointing out that those who stand in the way of his plan, in the name of a discredited economic philosophy, are putting the nation’s future at risk. The American economy is on the edge of catastrophe, and much of the Republican Party is trying to push it over that edge.” That nice Olympia Snowe and that tough Marine Jim Webb want to put the nation at risk? Shocking!