Victor Davis Hanson: Secretaries Gone Wild
Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and the author most recently of The End of Sparta. You can reach him by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’ve had some unusual cabinet secretaries in past administrations –Earl Butz, John Mitchell, and James Watt come to mind — but never anything quite like the present bunch.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has overseen some $5 trillion in new debt. To help pay for it, he wants the rich — the top 1 percent, which already contributes more in income taxes than does the bottom 90 percent — to pay more for what he calls “the privilege of being an American.” Geithner, whose department oversees the IRS, should have taken his own advice: As a rich American one-percenter, he once failed to pay his own self-employment taxes, and improperly claimed his children’s camp costs as a dependent-care deduction.
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has pulled off the near-impossible: At a time when the known gas and oil reserves of the United States on public lands have soared, he has cut back on federal leasing of them to just about 2 percent of available offshore lands and 6 percent of onshore. Meanwhile, huge new amounts of oil are being found on private lands despite, not because of, the Interior Department. When he was a U.S. senator, Salazar claimed that even $10-a-gallon gas would not change his mind about voting to increase offshore drilling. And although he controls the leases of the richest oil and gas reserves in the Western world, he recently shrugged that no one knew whether gas would hit $9 a gallon....
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