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Five Dumbest Things on Wall Street: May 8

'TurboTax Tim' Rides Again

The irony was inescapable. But Tim Geithner still should have tried to get away.

President Barack Obama, with the Treasury secretary by his side, launched a new initiative Monday to "detect and pursue" American tax evaders by wiping out their offshore tax shelters.

Obama said he plans to close tax loopholes that enable U.S. companies to stash profits overseas. Plus, the president wants to increase transparency in bank accounts held by Americans in notorious offshore tax havens so as to avoid tax evasion cases like the one currently embroiling Swiss private banking giant UBS (UBS).

With a straight face, the Treasury secretary kicked off the press conference by lecturing the American public about "indefensible" tax breaks and loopholes that allow "some well-off citizens to evade the rules that the rest of America lives by."

The always eloquent Obama followed Geithner, remarking that nobody likes paying taxes "but most Americans meet their responsibilities because they understand that it's an obligation of citizenship, necessary to pay the costs of our common defense and our mutual well-being."

Unless, of course, you are the president's nominee for of Secretary of the Treasury.

Yes Mr. President, the American public may have short attention spans, but it has not been that long since "TurboTax Tim" Geithner was raked over the coals during his confirmation hearing for failing to pay $34,000 in Social Security and Medicare taxes. In fact, it almost seems like yesterday when Geithner was blathering to Congress about how the popular tax-preparation software caused him to make "careless mistakes" on his returns.

After that embarrassing episode, one would think that the president would choose a different member from his deep bench of economic advisers for the occasion. Or maybe just grab his trusty teleprompter and do it as a solo act.

Trotting out the poster boy for tax evasion for an event like this, however, just makes no sense.

Unless, of course, the president's point is that it takes a tax cheat to know one.

Dumb-o-meter score: 95 -- What's next, President Obama? Will Jose Canseco and Barry Bonds be spearheading your new program to fight steroids in baseball?
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