Another day, another tax problem for an Obama cabinet nominee.
The Washington Post has just reported that a Senate session considering Hilda Solis for Labor Secretary was abruptly canceled this afternoon after USA Today disclosed that her husband had paid about $6,400 to settle tax liens against his business-some of which had been outstanding for 16 years. The Solis appointment has already been held up due to obstruction by at least one Republican senator, who used an anonymous hold to delay Solis's confirmation hearing due to her "less than forthcoming answers" on the Employee Free Choice Act. Senate Republicans also questioned whether she lobbied during her time as an official for American Rights at Work, a pro-union advocacy group.
Given how integral job-creation is to the stimulus, it's an especially inopportune time for the Obama administration to be without a Labor Secretary. Recognizing the danger of this leadership vacuum, Obama announced on Monday that Ed Hugler, a long-time Labor official, would serve as acting secretary in the interim. But if Obama truly is losing the stimulus message war, he also needs stronger, more visible figures by his side to sell the recovery plan to America-and a trusted Labor secretary would be invaluable in assuaging the public's fears about skyrocketing unemployment rates. It's too early to tell whether Solis will go the way of Geithner or Daschle. As it's her husband's tax troubles that are in question, not her own, I'd be more optimistic about her eventual confirmation. But given the sour turn of events this week, it might be wise to keep a few alternates on the Labor reserve bench...