Unnamed sources are complaining that the Finance Committee has stepped up its vetting of nominees’ taxes.  Not true.  The vetting is the same as when I became chairman in 2001, and maybe before that.

The committee is in charge of tax policy.  We ask each nominee for the last three years’ tax returns and review them with the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation.   Many nominees have had to answer questions as a result.  Some nominees were not confirmed. Some prospective nominees were not nominated.

In 2004, President Bush withdrew the nomination of Glen Bower for Tax Court judge after committee staff found improper deductions over three years, totaling about $ 2,000.

In 2001, Paul O'Neill was confirmed as Treasury Secretary after disclosing that he filed amended tax returns paying $92 in additional taxes for $150 in gifts for each of the prior three years.

This year, it happens that three nominees in a row from President Obama have had tax problems that became public.

Chairman Baucus and I agree -- if a nominee chooses to proceed after tax issues are identified, then the public should be informed of those issues.  The nominee always knows the information will become public.

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner was confirmed after having been found to owe an additional $48,268 in taxes.  Former Sen. Tom Daschle withdrew from the running to become Health and Human Services secretary after having been found to owe an additional $140,000.  Ron Kirk is advancing as the nominee for United States Trade Representative after a disclosure of $7,785 in taxes owed.

I wonder if the critics of the committee’s vetting process believe nominees shouldn’t have to pay their taxes. I’ll continue to do what I’ve always done -- thoroughly, fairly, and efficiently vet every nominee from any President to the Finance Committee.