Taxation in representation

During these hard economic times, most of us have looked forward to the Obama administration as an example and a beacon of hope for our country.

During these hard economic times, most of us have looked forward to the Obama administration as an example and a beacon of hope for our country. Recent developments, though, have many people questioning and worried about the direction we are going in.

Tax issues have been a recurring theme among those chosen by the president to join his administration. The biggest outcry is with Tom Daschle, Obama’s pick for secretary of Health and Human Services. Daschle’s failure to pay over $128,000 in back taxes led to his decision to decline the post offered to him.

As a former South Dakotan, this really shocked me. Yes, we all know that politicians are corrupt, at the very least in minor ways. However, like most of my fellow Midwesterners, I found myself asking: “Where are the rural values, Tom?”

For someone who once bragged that he still drove around in a beaten-down pick-up truck and kept to his small town ways, this is a stretch.

Daschle did make a good decision, nonetheless, in deciding to step back from the position. Although Obama’s judgment has still come into question with the media, he did save a lot of headache for the newly elected president down the line.

Nancy Killefer is another appointment gone sour. Her tax problems were nowhere near the range of Daschle’s (she owed only about $1,000), but the negative light it shed on the administration was enough for her to also decline the post of chief performance officer.

Timothy Geithner did take his post as treasury secretary, but not after much controversy over $34,000 in back taxes that he had only recently, and belatedly, paid to the IRS.

Obama was quoted as saying, “It’s important for this administration to send a message that there aren’t two sets of rules—you know, one for prominent people and one for ordinary folks who have to pay their taxes.”

Exactly! It’s refreshing to hear you say that, Mr. President. Too often we hear about people who could definitely afford to pay their taxes, but “overlook” it. If the average citizen, say, Joe the Plumber, made that kind of an oversight, he would be in shackles with his house, wife and 2.5 kids repossessed.

While many see this as reflecting poorly upon President Obama, I see it more as him believing that politicians should be trusted. This may be idealistic, but is that a bad thing? America should be able to at least moderately trust those they elect into office.

I do not believe this reflects badly on Obama at all, as some Republicans and other detractors are claiming. Certainly we cannot expect him to read minds, and he has stated and acted in such a manner that proves he is not one to hold to a double standard.

I am proud that rather than defend the actions of his political allies, he is gracefully letting the public know that it is not OK to abuse the power given to them by the people. This is a practice that has gone on too long, and should not only be frowned upon, but also the politician should be punished in the same way that a civilian would be punished.

This is perhaps even more atrocious given the current economical situation. How can we afford big stimulus packages and to bail anyone out if so many are not paying huge amounts of their taxes? It’s true that these are only three people, but how many more, politicians or not, are getting away with it behind the scenes?

The bottom line is that these politicians’ actions were abhorrent. I am glad that Obama has taken the high road in decrying their actions, while still maintaining his sadness that these otherwise outstanding individuals will not be contributing more to our country. His sentiments are shared.