I caught up with Rep. John Carter (R-TX) yesterday in the hallways of the Rayburn House Office building, outside of an Appropriations Committee markup. An attorney and former judge, Carter has been a vocal critic of the double standard afforded public officials, in particular House Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-NY), by the IRS when it comes to assessment of interest and penalties on back taxes.
"The first one that popped to the surface seemed to be the issue of Mr. Rangel's 20-years of failure to pay taxes on his rental income," Carter told me. "So far there have been no penalties or interest assessed. … If that's the way the IRS is going to treat Mr. Rangel, I think that we should be able to write on our tax returns if we owe any penalties or interest, 'I exercise the Rangel Rule' and you would also be exempt from having to pay those monies. … Now it appears Mr. Geithner is getting the same treatment."
In the real world, taking "responsibility" includes bearing the consequence of your actions. Paying the penalty. The Democrat Congress has placed unprecedented power in the hands of the Treasury secretary, granting sole discretionary power to disburse hundreds of billions of dollars in bailout funds. Being held accountable in actuality means as a consequence of your actions, whether "careless" or intentional, you are not placed in a position of great power in the public trust -- a position wielding oversight of the disbursement of trillions of dollars of the public's money.
"I should have been more careful" and "These were careless mistakes" should not be in the financial world vernacular of the person who will guide this nation through the worst economic times since we endured four years of Jimmy Carter at the helm.