EDITORIAL

Chuck Berry and Leona Helmsley went to jail for not paying taxes. Why don’t the same rules apply to Washington insiders who routinely evade payment of their income taxes? Tom Daschle, President Obama’s choice to head the Health and Human Services Department, withdrew after it was revealed that he had recently repaid three years of back taxes. He repaid $128,203 and $11,964 in interest. Chief Performance Officer nominee Nancy Killefer also withdrew from consideration, after it was disclosed she had a $967 tax lien filed against her in Washington four years ago for not paying unemployment compensation taxes for a household employee. She paid the lien about six months later. Sam Sayyad, who is the husband of Department of Labor secretary nominee Hilda Solis, paid about $6,400 earlier this month to settle numerous tax liens against his auto repair shop business dating to 1993. The tax issue has put Solis’ confirmation on hold. The tax issues that surfaced around Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner didn’t stop his confirmation to that office. Geithner owed $36,000 in self-employment taxes he failed to pay from 2001-2004. He didn’t pay all the back taxes until he was nominated to the president’s cabinet. These tax matters are so basic that there is no room for misunderstanding. Geithner of all people should have understood that if there was ever a time to avoid more questions, and hence prevent still more public distrust, this period of national uncertainty is it. Geithner’s confirmation as Treasury Secretary means we now have a tax cheat in charge of the government’s tax collection agency. How cool is that? If the explanations that they “made a mistake” or “didn’t understand” were buckets, those buckets wouldn’t hold rocks. The public — made up of people who do pay their taxes they owe — deserves some explanation as to why the IRS is not investigating. Absent an explanation, we’re sending a message that regular folks must pay their taxes, but if you’re rich and privileged, and politically connected or protected, it’s OK to cheat on Uncle Sam. This country was founded by people who stubbornly refused to pay taxes they saw as unjust. Somehow, though, we think the Founding Fathers would roll over in their graves if anyone termed these four as patriots.

Southern Sentinel