Tax Problems Plague Obama Nominees

“In this world, nothing is certain but death and taxes.”

Despite certainly having heard this famous Ben Franklin quote, three of President Barack Obama’s top appointees have neglected to pay parts of their taxes, bringing such intense media scrutiny that two of them have withdrawn their nominations.

Tom Daschle, Obama’s nominee for Secretary for Health and Human Services, failed to pay more than $120,000 in taxes, mostly stemming from a car and driver he used that was given to him as a gift.

Tom Daschle - Source: AP
Tom Daschle - Source: AP

Nancy Killefer, nominated by Obama to be his chief performance expert at the Office of Management and Budget, also withdrew her nomination after facing tax problems. She had a $900 tax lien on her home in 2005 for failing to pay unemployment compensation tax on household help. Her job at the OMB would have been as a watchdog on wasteful government spending. With her resignation, she will likely stay in her current job at McKinsey & Company.

Timothy Geithner, Obama’s nominee for Treasury Secretary, had unpaid taxes of his own. As an employee of the International Monetary Fund, many have agreed that his tax situation was significantly more complex than the average person’s. Nevertheless, as the person who would oversee the Internal Revenue Service, his oversight had extra weight. After an apology before the media and Congress, he was able to preserve his nomination. Geithner was confirmed by the Senate, and is now the Treasury Secretary.

What Are Your Obama Goodies Worth?

Throughout the recent presidential campaign and in the lead-up to Barack Obama’s inauguration, we have seen the rapid growth and eventual ubiquity of Obama kitsch.

Buttons for Obama
Buttons for Obama

From buttons to bunting, parade signs to panties, you can get pretty much anything these days with Obama’s face on it.

Though the people manufacturing Obama goodies are obviously in it to make money, many are wondering if their memorabilia might be worth something one day. It’s true, for example, that a Inauguration program booklet belonging to an aide of John F. Kennedy was recently sold for $300. Is your DC metro ticket with Obama’s face on it going to make you rich 40 years from now?

Well, it depends.

It mainly depends on the number of the items that exist. Since there are so many buttons, shirts and campaign posters, it’s unlikely that those kinds of things will fetch very much money if you try to sell them in 2058. With Obama kitsch, as with most everything, the laws of supply and demand do indeed set the price.

That’s why you could probably get quite a bit more money if you are selling something more rare. How about the Obama poster that hung in O-Force One? That’s not your average Obama poster, and is likely worth quite a bit more. Indeed the closer the kitsch was to Obama himself, the more it is probably worth.

The Inauguration program from JFK’s aide is worth $300 not because it was from the event, but because it was presumably right there on the platform and handled by people who intimately knew the president.