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Timothy Geithner’s confirmation
The new Treasury chief faces a bad economy and a hostile GOP

“Great news for tax scofflaws,” said Andrew Malcolm in the Los Angeles Times. The Senate confirmed “fellow traveler” Timothy Geithner as Treasury Secretary, 60-34, with 10 Republicans casting “yea” votes. The new boss of the IRS, of course, neglected until recently to pay $34,000 in federal taxes from 2001 to 2004. He says it was a “careless and negligent” mistake—well, “remember this effective ‘unintentional’ defense" the “next time the IRS calls you.”

So Geithner made “tax-preparation mistakes,” said Yael Abouhalkah in the Kansas City Star. “It’s rather flip but . . . so what?” We’re in “the country’s greatest economic meltdown in 70 years,” and when you weigh Geithner’s “amateurish” tax mistakes against his potential to turn the economy around, his admitted tax errors seem pretty minor.

Still, there are reasons a third of the Senate voted against him, said Larry Kudlow in National Review Online, and his tax “gaffes” are only part of it. Geithner called China a “currency manipulator,” which is an “actionable offense that could trigger a 37 percent tariff on Chinese imports.” As our “biggest bond salesman in American history,” Geithner can’t afford to bite the hand of America’s “biggest banker.”

Geithner may have “a credibility gap with the GOP,” said Lisa Lerer and Mike Allen in Politico, but he easily survived “the party’s first organized attempt to embarrass President Obama.” With this official return of partisanship, Obama and the Democrats have a lot banking on Geithner’s “personal tax controversy” fading “as he takes control of the economic agenda.”

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