Sen. Charles E. Grassley, ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, is raising questions about a housekeeper who worked briefly for Treasury Secretary-nominee Timothy Geithner without proper immigration papers, and multiple years when Mr. Geithner didn't pay Social Security and Medicare taxes for himself.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D., Mont.) has summoned committee members to his office this afternoon to air the matter ahead of any public confirmation hearing.
According to people familiar with the matter, Mr. Geithner employed a housekeeper whose immigration papers expired during her tenure with Mr. Geithner, currently president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The woman went on to get a green card to work legally in the country and federal immigration authorities didn't press charges against her, these people said.
(both Parties are for illegal immigration; it has greatly helped the economy! Ha! - Tiger)
The second issue involved taxes due while Mr. Geithner worked for the International Monetary Fund between 2001 and 2004. As an employee, Mr. Geithner was technically considered self-employed and was required to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes for himself as both an employer and an employee.
He apparently failed to do so, resulting in Internal Revenue Service audits his last two years at the IMF. As soon as the IRS brought the issue to his attention, he paid the taxes with interest, these people said.
It's unclear how much of an impediment these issues will be to Mr. Geithner's nomination. On its merits, his ascension has been widely praised. Mr. Geithner spent most of his career managing government responses to financial crises, from the 1990s bailouts of Mexico, Indonesia and Korea, to the market meltdown that has brought Wall Street to its knees.
At the same time, similar issues have derailed nominations in the past. President Clinton's first and second choices for attorney general both withdrew amid allegations that they failed to pay taxes for household help. President George W. Bush's first choice for Labor secretary withdrew after it emerged that she had employed an illegal alien.
Obama aides said they didn't believe these issues would present a problem, given the minor nature of the infractions and the gravity of the role he has been nominated to take.
On the tax front, Mr. Geithner's oversight is not uncommon. The IRS has mandated loose rules for U.S.-born IMF employees unaware of their obligations to pay payroll taxes.
(uh ... this is an "expert" in this area, is he not? - Tiger)
Sen. Baucus nonetheless decided to hold a closed-door meeting to allow the two matters to be aired before Mr. Geithner's public confirmation hearing.
"It's important that I talk to senators, which I'm going to be doing," Sen. Baucus said as he went into the meeting.
Democratic senators plan to defend Mr. Geithner, saying that the nature of the complaints pale in comparison to the gravity of the crises he has been asked to face, a severe economic recession, turmoil in the financial markets and the collapse of the U.S. auto industry.
... remember Tiger's Rule; "Never Ever Vote For An Incumbent" and if possible, "Never Ever Vote Republican or Democrat".
Meanwhile ... The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee is interviewing Sen. Hillary Clinton for her appointment by President-elect Barack Obama as the next U.S. Secretary of State but apparently is making a determined effort to prevent any discussion of her "Chinagate" or "Filegate" scandals.
... 'ol George was our first Saudi-Mexican President, Obama will be our first Kenyan!