Obama Defends Geithner, Expresses Confidence in his Confirmation

Jan 14, 2009 5:56pm

President-elect Barack Obama today defended his choice for Treasury Secretary, calling for Tim Geithner to be confirmed even amid questions still lurking about his failure to pay the correct amount of taxes on time, and employing a housekeeper whose work authorization had expired.

At his transition office in downtown Washington, D.C., the president-elect addressed primarily the tax issue, and said that while the problem is embarrassing to Geithner, personally it does not change his credibility.

“It is an innocent mistake. It is a mistake that’s commonly made for people who are working internationally or for international institutions. It has been corrected. He’s paid the penalties,” Obama said.

Geithner worked at the International Monetary Fund from 2001 to 2003. The Obama Transition Team discovered that Geithner had not paid self-employment taxes (which the IMF requires their employees to do) from 2001 -2002 as they were vetting him for Treasury secretary. Geithner has since paid back the money that he owes.

Geithner’s nomination hearing is scheduled for Jan. 21st, one day after Obama is sworn in as president.

Obama made his expectations of Congress clear, saying that this should not jeopardize his confirmation.

“My expectation is that Tim Geithner will be confirmed. And my expectation is that he is going to do an outstanding job on behalf of the American people,” Obama said.

The president-elect lauded how both sides of the isle believe that Geithner is uniquely qualified for the job.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, who had briefed the president-elect, along with VP-elect Joe Biden, on their trip to the Middle East in the office earlier, was on hand to offer some Republican response.

“These are huge times. Now is not the time to think in small political terms,” Graham told reporters, “I don’t see any desire by the Republican Party to play gotcha on something like this. We need a new secretary of treasury who understands where this country is at financially and has a game plan to move forward. I think he’s the right guy.”

– Sunlen Miller

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