Tuesday, Apr. 28, 2009

New Transparency, Old Tax Troubles

Day 2
Jan. 21, 2009

"These were careless mistakes. They were avoidable mistakes. But they were unintentional. I should have been more careful."

Timothy Geithner, Treasury Secretary–nominee, apologizing for owing $34,000 in payroll and Social Security taxes from 2001 and 2002 at his Senate confirmation hearing

"For a long time now there's been too much secrecy in this city. Transparency and rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

President Obama, at a swearing-in ceremony for senior officials before announcing new ethics rules

Reality sets in on Obama's first full day on the job as Senators grill his pick for Treasury Secretary over widely publicized tax troubles. But despite the public lashing, it looks likely that Geithner will pull through, a sign that tough economic times trump a personal problem that could (and will) derail other nominees.

Meanwhile, Obama offers counterprogramming with an event administering strict ethical guidelines for his new employees, including a pay freeze for senior White House staff making more than $100,000 a year as well as tougher rules regarding lobbyists in his Administration. He also fulfills a campaign promise by meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff on his first full day to begin discussions on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and fixes the flub from Inauguration Day by redoing the oath of office with Chief Justice Roberts during a private ceremony at the White House.

A carefully scripted Day Two, however, ends with a political shocker: Caroline Kennedy, who was seen as the most likely pick to replace Hillary Clinton in the Senate, suddenly and awkwardly drops her bid for the seat for unspecified personal reasons, sparking much breathless speculation in the New York and Washington media and political worlds.

Browse Obama's first 100 days by date.