Timothy Geithner was just confirmed by the US Senate to be treasury secretary -- his expertise and the depth of the economic crisis trumping concerns about his lax taxpaying habits.
The Senate voted 60-34, after his nomination was recommended by the Senate Finance Committee on an 18-5 vote last week.
Within a little more than an hour of the approval, Geithner was sworn into office.
Obama attended the ceremony and thanked senators for their show of confidence in Geithner.
He said Geithner is needed at such dire times. "We cannot lose a day because every day the economic picture is darkening," he said.
Geithner won approval despite opposition from some senators, including Senator Susan Collins, the moderate Republican from Maine.
While acknowledging Geithner's experience and expertise, Collins said on MSNBC that his failure to pay self-employment taxes while working at the International Monetary Fund -- including for two years after an audit pointed out the lapse -- disqualifies him.
Collins, whose influence is outsized because Democrats are just shy of a potentially filibuster-proof majority of 60 votes in the Senate, said she "just cannot get past" the tax transgression, which she called "inexcusable negligence."
"I just think that's unacceptable," she said, for someone whose department includes the Internal Revenue Service.
There are other competent economists who can serve in the post, she added.
Democratic Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa agreed, asking how someone of Geithner's "financial sophistication" could innocently not pay the taxes and then head up the agency that oversees the IRS.
"How can Mr. Geithner speak with any credibility or authority?" Harkin asked, according to the Associated Press.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.