Senator Inhofe Opposes Timothy Geithner as Treasury Secretary

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) today expressed concern and intends to vote against President Obama’s nominee for Secretary of the Treasury, Timothy Geithner. The following are excerpts of Senator Inhofe’s Senate Floor speech. 

 

 “I do not believe Mr. Geithner has been entirely candid about his tax issues and he has been less than forthcoming about all the facts,” Senator Inhofe said.  “For example, Mr. Geithner accepted compensation from his employer to offset taxes, when he had never paid those taxes to begin with.  And, having been informed about his oversight for tax years 2003 and 2004, he never bothered to check for 2001 and 2002. I can tell you that for people in Oklahoma and across the country, small businesses or an individual, who made an honest mistake on their taxes have found their government’s treatment of them slightly more aggressive than they have seen the treatment of Mr. Geithner – a man about to head the IRS.  

“This is one of those things that make people so angry about their government. The man who wants to be in charge of the IRS messed up his taxes, and got a pass from the US Senate.  For as much as we talk about a level playing field, it sure looks like we don’t walk the walk when we have the opportunity. 

“However, I want to emphasize that my objection to Timothy Geithner’s nomination to head the Treasury Department has nothing to do with his tax issues. I want Senators to realize what a vote for Mr. Geithner really is.  It is ratifying aggressive federal government intervention in the economy.  It is flippant use of billions in US taxpayer dollars to prop up favored institutions and pick winners and losers in the marketplace. This has created great uncertainty in the market, which is precisely what we don’t need right now.  

“The government has gone too far, and under Mr. Geithner, all indications are that we are not going to slow down anytime soon.  We need a change of course.  We need to finally, trillions of dollars later, find the strength to let those who made poor decisions bear some of the consequences, instead of taxpayers.  Timothy Geithner will take the helm of the Treasury Department at a time when the government has entangled itself into the economy to an unprecedented extent.  Given his strong support—stronger by many accounts than Secretary Paulson himself—for ad hoc bailouts of big firms, I cannot support his nomination.”  

Senator Inhofe’s Full Remarks as Prepared for Delivery: 

Mr. President, I oppose the nomination of Timothy Geithner for the position of Secretary of the Treasury, and I would like to detail a couple of the reasons. 

First, I do not believe Mr. Geithner has been entirely candid about his tax issues. I think he has been less than forthcoming about all the facts. For example, Mr. Geithner accepted compensation from his employer to offset taxes, when he had never paid those taxes to begin with.  And, having been informed about his oversight for tax years 2003 and 2004, he never bothered to check for 2001 and 2002. I can tell you that for people in Oklahoma and across the country, small businesses or an individual, who made an honest mistake on their taxes have found their government’s treatment of them slightly more aggressive than they have seen the treatment of Mr. Geithner – a man about to head the IRS. It’s one of those things that make people so angry about their government. The man who wants to be in charge of the IRS messed up his taxes, and got a pass from the US Senate.  For as much as we talk about a level playing field, it sure looks like we don’t walk the walk when we have the opportunity.   

However, I want to emphasize that my objection to Timothy Geithner’s nomination to head the Treasury Department has nothing to do with his tax issues.  The matter which compels my coming to the floor is far, far more serious.  I want Senators to realize what a vote for Mr. Geithner really is.  It is ratifying aggressive federal government intervention in the economy.  It is flippant use of billions in US taxpayer dollars to prop up favored institutions and pick winners and losers in the marketplace. This has created great uncertainty in the market, which is precisely what we don’t need right now.  And let me say that not all federal intervention during a financial crisis is created equal.  The FDIC, for example, did a good job managing the biggest bank failure in US history while we in Congress were all debating the TARP.  What I object to is the midnight rescue packages, and the ad hoc approach.  I object to the say one thing, do another programs.  I object to the complete lack of any policy framework, explanation of principles, or coherent approach.  I object to the absolute lack of any transparency whatsoever.  I object to the indifference to the taxpayers’ interests. Put simply, I object to the bailout mania we have all witnessed.  

It all started with Bear Stearns nearly a year ago. The initiator of the Bear Stearns deal was not Secretary Paulson or Chairman Bernanke, though of course they signed off on it.  It was Timothy Geithner.  After the deal was announced, Robert Novak reported in his column that an unnamed Fed official confided in him at the time that “we may have crossed a line” in bailing out Bear Stearns. Mr. Novak wrote that was an understatement, and that we wouldn’t know the ramifications of this decision for some time.  Well, we are now trillions of dollars past that line and we’re beginning to comprehend the course on which that decision has set us.  And I personally believe that trillions of dollars past that line, we’re not much better off.  I say enough.  The government has gone too far, and under Mr. Geithner, all indications are that we are not going to slow down anytime soon.  We need a change of course.  We need to finally, trillions of dollars later, find the strength to let those who made poor decisions bear some of the consequences, instead of taxpayers. 

Timothy Geithner will take the helm of the Treasury Department at a time when the government has entangled itself into the economy to an unprecedented extent.  Given his strong support—stronger by many accounts than Secretary Paulson himself—for ad hoc bailouts of big firms, I cannot support his nomination.  I want this Senate to consider the message we would continue to send the American people.  I oppose this nomination, and I yield the floor. 

Related Links: National Review Online Editorial: Due Diligence on Geithner 

 Wall Street Journal: Geithner's Track Record Cuts Two Ways 

 Robert Novak (Townhall.com): Finance's "New Day" 

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