- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The confirmation of Timothy Geithner, President Obama’s choice for secretary of the Treasury, was an early indication of the direction in which our country’s ethical standards were heading. Appointing a secretary of the Treasury who ducked his own taxes does not exactly set a high standard.

There is no shortage of ethically challenged individuals in the halls of Congress, notable among them Minnesota Democratic Sen. Al Franken, New York Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel and Massachusetts Democratic Sen. John Kerry. Members of Congress dodge the very laws they help write and a tax cheat supervises the Internal Revenue Service? If this isn’t government decadence at its finest, I don’t know what is. Democrats are usually the more zealous of the two main parties about collecting taxes, without which we would not have the many programs they believe government must fund, and yet here they are not paying their fair share.

Half of all Americans do not pay federal taxes on their income. And neither, apparently, does General Electric, the multinational company that reaped $4.2 billion in profit last year. According to the New York Times, GE is the largest corporation in the United States and it did not have to pay a dime in U.S. taxes. In fact, the company claimed $3.2 billion in tax benefits.

In addition, Mr. Obama recently tapped GE’s CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, as his liaison to the business world and as chairman of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. Mr. Immelt was one of several CEOs selected by Mr. Obama to accompany him on his government-funded excursion to Brazil, a detail not reported by the media.

Shenanigans and apparent kickbacks like these are the reason nobody trusts the government or the empty suits who run this country like it is their personal fiefdom, extracting the fruits of our labor and doling out favors. Mr. Obama’s promises during his campaign and exhortations notwithstanding, we have learned that in important and alarming ways for our country and our culture, things have not changed since he took office.

ED KONECNIK

Flushing, N.Y.