Does anyone else find it borderline sociopathic that two of President Obama's 15 Cabinet selections -- as well as today's bonus revelation -- conveniently "discovered" tax issues upon being nominated? Maybe it's just a coincidence, but the current "whoops" rate seems pretty high for a group you'd expect to be a bastion against corruption and fraud.
Let's count 'em off:
- Two weeks ago, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner disclosed his failure to pay $34,000 in self-employment taxes over a three-year stretch earlier this decade.
- This week, Health and Human Services nominee and former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle said he's "deeply embarrassed" for not paying $128,000 in taxes related to a private chauffeur service -- 80% of which he admits was for personal use. He withdrew his nomination today.
- Earlier today, "chief performance officer" nominee Nancy Killefer withdrew her nomination because of … a tax issue.
I can't help pointing out the irony: A former member of the same group that berated Big Oil companies like ExxonMobil
Now, I'm not saying that everyone in Washington is crooked. In their defense, the tax code in this country is so unimaginably mystifying that the occasional error is inevitable. Still, when we're running an expected $2 trillion annual deficit and tacking it on to more than $10.6 trillion in national debt, for Pete's sake, is it too much to ask that the people spending this money pay their fair share? When a tiny group of politicians are vetted in a way that exposes an inordinate amount of "errors," I can't help wondering what else lurks in the halls of Washington.
This all reminds me of a great customer complaint I heard waged against Merrill Lynch last year: "If you can't manage your own money, why should I give you mine?"
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Fool contributor Morgan Housel doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article. Bank of America is a former Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation. The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.