Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted today to move ahead with the nomination of Mary Smith to head the Justice Department’s Tax Division, over Republican objections that Smith lacks significant relevant experience.
At a committee meeting, three Republican senators spoke against Smith, noting that she has never held a job specializing in tax law. She has never written or spoken on tax issues, does not have a specialized degree, and has never taken a continuing legal education course in tax law, said the committee Ranking Member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.).
“Tax law is very specialized and it’s certainly not an area where you learn on the job,” Sessions said. He argued that Smith could be an embarrassment to the administration, saying, “You should not put people in a job they’re not prepared to handle.”
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) called Smith the “worst choice” that President Barack Obama has made in all of his appointments. Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), the Republican whip, said there must be “thousands of highly experienced tax lawyers who would love to have a job like this.”
No Democrats spoke in defense of Smith before voting for her, though Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) noted that the committee has received letters supporting her nomination ….
Smith is a partner at Schoeman Updike Kaufman & Scharf in Chicago. … The committee voted 12-7 along party lines to send Smith’s nomination to the full Senate
* The $787 billion stimulus, gargantuan as it was, was in fact too small and not aimed clearly enough at only immediate job-creation.
* The $275 billion home-mortgage-refinancing plan, assembled by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, is too complex and indirect.
* The president gave up the moral high ground on spending not so much with the “stim” but with the $400 billion supplemental spending bill, larded as it was with 9,000 earmarks.
* The administration is throwing good money after bad in at least two cases—the sinkhole that is Citigroup (there are many healthy banks) and General Motors (they deserve what they get).
* The failure to call for genuine sacrifice on the part of all Americans, despite the rhetorical claim that everyone would have to “give up” something.
* A willingness to give too much leeway to Congress to handle crucial details, from the stim to the vague promise to “reform” medical care without stating what costs could be cut.
* A 2010 budget that tries to do far too much, with way too rosy predictions on future revenues and growth of the economy. This led those who fear we are about to go over Niagara Falls to deride Obama as a paddler who’d rather redesign the canoe.
* A treasury secretary who has been ridiculed on “Saturday Night Live” and compared to Doogie Howser, Barney Fife and Macaulay Culkin in “Home Alone”—and those are the nice ones.
* A seeming paralysis in the face of the banking crisis: unwilling to nationalize banks, yet unable to figure out how to handle toxic assets in another way—by, say, setting up a “bad bank” catch basin.
* A seeming reluctance to seek punishing prosecutions of the malefactors of the last 15 years—and even considering a plea bargain for Bernie Madoff, the poster thief who stole from charities and Nobel laureates and all the grandparents of Boca. Yes, prosecutors are in charge, but the president is entitled—some would say required—to demand harsh justice.
* The president, known for his eloquence and attention to detail, seemingly unwilling or unable to patiently, carefully explain how the world works—or more important, how it failed. Using FDR’s fireside chats as a model, Obama needs to explain the banking system in laymen’s terms. An ongoing seminar would be great.
* Obama is no socialist, but critics argue that now is not the time for costly, upfront spending on social engineering in health care, energy or education.
Hope and Change!!!
Another ill-considered appointment in the Barack Obama administration has come to an abrupt halt. Dennis Blair has reconsidered his choice of Chas Freeman as chair of the National Intelligence Council:
Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair announced today that Ambassador Charles W. Freeman Jr. has requested that his selection to be Chairman of the National Intelligence Council not proceed. Director Blair accepted Ambassador Freeman’s decision with regret.
The more people found out about Freeman, the worse he got — and not just among conservative critics. His ties to CNOOC, his remarks about the Tiananmen Square protesters, and his support of a national ID after 9/11 painted a strange picture of the man who would run the process of evaulating our intelligence. That, plus the fact that Freeman had no intelligence experience — when the CIA also has a no-experience political fixer running it — doomed Freeman’s appointment.
Apparently, the Obama administration got the message from the Hill today. Dianne Feinstein requested that Freeman make himself available to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, signaling that she was not pleased with Blair’s choice. The White House had let Blair twist in the wind when Freeman started taking flack, first among Israel’s allies in DC and later as more critics began to speak out. They pointed out that the White House had no input on the choice and no opportunity to vet Freeman before Blair announced his pick.
Has someone else noticed a pattern here with Obama’s nominees to cabinet level, or the equivalent, positions?
- Ron Kirk (Democrat) – Mayor of Dallas, TX – Nominated to be the US Trade Representative – Fails to pay income taxes for three years.
- Tom Daschle (Democrat) – Former Senator of South Dakota – Nominated to be the Sec. of Health and Human Services – Fails to pay $128,000 in income taxes over two years.
- Nancy Killefer (Democrat) – Former Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget – Nominated to be the first chief performance officer – Fails to pay employment taxes on household maids for a year and a half.
- Timothy Geithner (Democrat) – Former Treasury official – Nominated to be the Treasury Secretary – Fails to pay income taxes for three years and fails to pay employment taxes on household maids for half a year.
Honorable Mention and Runner-Ups
- Bill Richardson (Democrat) – Governor of New Mexico – Nominated to be Commerce Secretary – Charged by a grand jury for accepting money in exchange for political favors back home.
- Charles Rengal (Democrat) – Representative from New York – Chair of the House Ways & Means Committee (responsible for writing the tax code) – Fails to pay $75,000 in rental income.
- Chriss Dodd (Democrat) – Senator from Connecticut – Chair of the Senate Banking Committee (Responsible for overseeing banks and mortgage insurance companies) – Fails to explain how he received a free cottage in Ireland after helping a felon-on-the-run get a presidential pardon from Clinton AND how he managed to get a low-interest loan from CountryWide Mortgage (a company he is suppose to be regulating and overseeing) when others could not.
- Jack Murtha (Democrat) – Representative from Pennslyvania – Chair of the House Defense Appropriations Committee (determines how much money is spent on national defense) – Has been accused of accepting lobbyist contributions to his campaigns in exchange for funneling defense contracts to his contributors.
- Rahm Emanuel (Democrat) – Representative from Chicago – Current Chief of Staff or Obama – Has been paying zero rent since moving to DC.
- Louis Susman (Democrat) – Banker from Chicago – Fundraised for Obama and “gave” $300,000 for the inaugural ball – Tapped to be the Amabassador to England which is a break from his promise to have nothing to do with “pay-to-play” politics.
It sounds like there just might be a corruption problem when it comes to Washington! And for those of you who want to say “but the Republican’s do it too!”, remember that
- (a) Democrats are in charge of both the House, Senate, and the Presidency, and
- (b) It’s a bit hypocratic to say that it is patriotic to pay taxes for programs that American may not want when it’s own political leaders aren’t even paying taxes, and
- (c) Show me who within the GOP currently has the same amount of personal problems as the Democrats, and, on top of that,
- (d) Congress (which is runned by Democrats) killed a bill that would have required the Ethics Committee to investigate lawmaker-lobbyist ties.
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