Grassley casts his first vote against an Obama nominee

Senator Chuck Grassley voted against Timothy Geithner’s nomination for Treasury Secretary today:

Grassley had praised Geithner for being qualified for the job and for apologizing for his failure to pay $34,000 in income taxes several years ago. But Grassley said he gave inconsistent answers during his testimony to the committee during his confirmation hearing Wednesday.

“The explanations for irregularities have ranged from statements that he should have known, to proclamations that if only his accountants had warned him he would have done the right thing,” Grassley said in a statement released after the committee vote.

“I received a message yesterday from a constituent in Dubuque expressing concern about this nomination. The constituent wrote, ‘If the man cannot handle his own finances, how is he going to handle the country’s?’ “

Geither will be confirmed easily by the full Senate. Only four other Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee joined Grassley in voting against him.

I am surprised that Grassley voted against Geithner, given that the Wall Street establishment is uniformly behind this nomination.

I wasn’t crazy about this pick because of Geithner’s role in the bailout. The Des Moines Register makes clear that Grassley did not oppose Geithner for that reason.

I think it’s reasonable for people to object when the prospective head of the Treasury Department did not fully meet his tax obligations for several years in a row. I also suspect that if Geithner were not a white male, a lot more senators would view his past tax problems as disqualifying.

I expect all of Obama’s cabinet appointments to be confirmed, with Eric Holder perhaps getting the most “no” votes for Attorney General.

Interestingly, only two Republicans voted against confirming Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State yesterday.

The Senate unanimously confirmed Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and five other Obama appointees on Tuesday.  

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