The Treasury Department oversees the Internal Revenue Service. But if the Secretary of the Treasury - or any other political appointee being considered for the Treasury Department - didn't pay his income payroll taxes, it doesn't matter. That's the message from House Banking Committee Chairman Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., and he blamed the fourth estate for acting like it does matter.
On MSNBC's March 11 broadcast of "Andrea Mitchell Reports," host Andrea Mitchell asked Frank to respond to criticism in a March 11 piece from New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman that too many appointees were being held up for what he deemed insignificant reasons.
"I think it's a problem, although I will say this - for the media to blame that entirely on the Senate seems to me a little bit self serving," Frank said. "I mean, the media is the problem here, in part. It is the over-focus on part of people in the media to relatively minor infractions that causes this. I guarantee you my colleagues would not on their own be doing this. So I do think we are in a culture now where a lack of perfection exacts too strong a toll, but that's the politicians reacting to the media."
Speaking on behalf of the American media, Mitchell told Frank she pled guilty and that this has been allowed to get out of control.
"I take your point, Mr. Frank, Mr. Chairman," Mitchell said. "You're right and we plead guilty because this is this culture right now of ‘gotcha' has gotten completely out of control."
Frank elaborated on his view of the media and associated the failure to pay taxes for certain Obama appointees with "gossip" and "trivia."
"We often bring out the worst in each other," Frank said. "What I found is the public always - seems to me, in the past you could say, ‘Well, that's what the public wanted.' But I do think that maybe the people who are bring us out of this are the average citizens. They are so now focused on real problems that I have found, encouragingly they are much less interested in the gossip, or in the trivia and even the minor infractions than they are in ‘are you going to get credit for me,' ‘am I going to get a job,' ‘what will happen to my health care if I lose my job,' ‘can my kid get into school." You know, adversity seems to be concentrating the mind in a very good way."