We know for a fact that it is a patriotic act for Americans to pay taxes, especially if one is a rich American. The Vice President of the United States said so when he was campaigning for the office. Not only did Joe Biden make such a remark, but he would later angrily defend his statement after it caused something of a stir, as Biden's remarks often do. The former Senator told an audience of labor union members that it was about values:
"I tell you, Democrats," Biden said, gritting his teeth. "Don't you step down from anybody telling you that we don't value, we don't have American values. - I want this debate about values! I want this debate about American values."
Make no mistake - paying taxes is patriotic. The wealthier you are, the more taxes you should pay. It's your patriotic duty. Democrats believe that paying taxes should be like voting. It is something to be done early and often. So let it be written. So let it be done.
Oh, wait. Here's an exception to the rule. Al Franken, the Democrat candidate for the U.S. Senate, who had votes recounted, thrown out and thrown in until he got the results he wanted, was forced to pay his taxes a bit late. Franken is such a comedian that he owed about $70,000 in back income taxes in 17 states going back to 2003. The funny man only coughed up his fair and patriotic share after news reports about his failure to pay became a threat to his prospects of of grabbing a Senate seat. But it wasn't Franken's fault. With Democrats, it never is their fault. In this case, the man of mirth simply acted, or rather failed to do so, on bad advice from his accountant.
Darn, here's another exception. Rep. Charles Rangel, chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, failed to report at least $75,000 in rental income from a luxury beachfront villa he owns in the Dominican Republic. Rangel was considered to be such a patriotic American that he once introduced a bill to reinstate the military draft and then voted against it on the floor of the House. It's almost unthinkable that this stalwart patriot would have such a lapse. Say it ain't so, Charlie! But, like Franken, Rangel also has an excuse. Apparently the man who is in charge of the committee which writes our tax laws did not realize he had to declare rental income as income. Now there's a tricky nuance in that complicated tax code that could have fooled anyone.
Oops, another exception. Timothy Geithner, the man nominated by President Obama to oversee the federal treasury and the Internal Revenue Service, fell into the patriotism gap when he failed to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes while in the employ of the International Monetary Fund. Just for good measure, he employed an immigrant housekeeper who briefly lacked proper work papers. His persistent tax filing and payment problems go back over 15 years. Surely he has a good excuse, right?
"His explanation was kind of, 'I don’t know—it was stupid, obviously it was a mistake, and I don’t know why I did it,'" recalls a senator who was present during Geithner’s surprise appearance before a members-only meeting of the Senate Finance Committee last week. "What do you say to that?"
How about, "Sorry, we don't feel that you're qualified for the job?" Too bad that the esteemed members of the committee din't have the presence of mind and backbone to stand up and say that right there and then.
Oh no, yet another exception. Former Senate majority leader Tom Daschle, nominated by our rookie president to be secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, suffered a lapse in his patriotism, failing to pay a whopping $128,000 in taxes. Daschle's patriotic manifesto on taxes, in the Congressional Record, May 7, 1998, includes this howler:
"Make no mistake, tax cheaters cheat us all, and the IRS should enforce our laws to the letter."
Sadly, this great patriot from the party of "Do as I say, not as I do" apparently did not report consulting fees, made questionable charitable contributions, and was the beneficiary of a car and driver thoughtfully furnished by a company run by a longtime Democrat Party donor. Even worse, Daschle has some serious problems involving conflicts of interest. Daschle's excuse? He just didn't think to report the perks as income. It must have slipped his mind.
What do these four flawed patriots have in common? Well, for one thing, they're the rich that Democrats love to say should pay their fair share of taxes. For another thing, by some cruel twist of irony, they're all Democrats. More importantly, none of them paid the taxes they owed until they were called on it. So, as patriotism is defined by the vice president, they are all rather reluctant patriots. We can't call them unpatriotic, because Democrats' heads tend to explode when their patriotism is questioned, and who would clean up the mess? That's another job that Americans just won't do, and undocumented workers seem to have been driven south by the failing economy. Besides, "unpatriotic" is like the Uncola - just sooo seventies. Let's just say that these Democrats have a patriotism deficit. That dovetails nicely with the federal deficit, which President Obama's nearly trillion dollar, pork-laden stimulus bill would drive up to a level that could only be described as "patriotic."