Why Can't We Get Some Interim Treasury Staff?

| Thu Mar. 12, 2009 1:56 PM EDT

I agree with this point from Times columnist Tom Friedman:

I read that we’re actually holding up dozens of key appointments at the Treasury Department because we are worried whether someone paid Social Security taxes on a nanny hired 20 years ago at $5 an hour. That’s insane. It’s as if our financial house is burning down but we won’t let the Fire Department open the hydrant until it assures us that there isn’t too much chlorine in the water.

But I also get this counterpoint from the Economist's Democracy in America blog:

You can hear the Republican spin if someone in the White House argued this. "Oh, sure. That's convenient. Waive the rules now, after eight years of piling on George Bush."

But do we really have only two options: unduly delay the staffing of the Treasury, or appointing people with ethical transgressions in their past lives? Why can't we appoint interim staff to the Treasury that undergo only a light vetting? They could serve while the full vetting process is going on. I understand there would be hiccups when the interim staff has to transfer their knowledge/files/etc. to the full-time staff, but is that worse that have no staff at all during this critical juncture?

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