Treasury Secretary-designate Timothy Geithner apologized for his $34,000 tax mistake . He said, "These were careless mistakes. They were avoidable mistakes. But they were unintentional. I should have been more careful."
I take him at his word. That's why he should not be confirmed as Treasury Secretary.
We should first notice that $34,000 is not a small amount. And that is the tax, not the underlying income on which tax was not paid. As Treasury Secretary he would be in charge of the IRS. He would be the boss of the bosses in charge of the people who audit people like him. He would also be the economic czar as we try to bail ourselves out of this recession.
Let's look at an analogy. I am an engineer. Let's say I need to hire a mechanical engineer who can design things that must stand up, take a beating, and remain standing - like a good bridge. I get an applicant who has great academic credentials. But it turns out he built a large tool shed in his own back yard. He designed it himself, bought the materials himself and built it himself.
And it collapsed in the first heavy wind because he had miscalculated in the design, used sub-spec materials and poor workmanship.
Should I hire him? If I did, would you want to use my new bridge?
If you are still having trouble with that decision, ask our potential economic czar about his experience. Specifically, how many other major economies did he lead out of recession? What countries took his economic advice, and how did that turn out?
Personally, I would prefer a bridge designer who had been involved in the design of at least one other large structure that remains standing -- even if an alternate candidate had authored multiple very impressive papers on bridge building.