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Opinion: Dramatic tapes of Hilda Solis-White House emergency radio chatter

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In an amazing news coincidence, on the very same day as the US Air Flight 1549 emergency radio tapes were released, The Ticket has exclusively obtained the tapes of recent emergency radio conversations between ground traffic controllers with the Obama administration‘s White House and Rep. Hilda Solis.

She’s the California House member and secretary of Labor-designate whose confirmation is before the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. Hers is the latest Obama Cabinet nomination in trouble over tax issues. Tom Daschle and Nancy Killefer have already gone under the bus.

The dramatic tape excerpts tell a compelling story of confused but calm determination and political professionalism during the sudden tax emergency and unexpected descent this week. Here are the exchanges between Solis and the White House:

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HS: We had a problem on takeoff. Flew into a flock of liens.

WH: Of what?

HS: Liens. Tax liens. My husband has more than 6,000 in unpaid business taxes.

WH: That’s a lot of faxes!

HS: No, not faxes. Taxes. You know, like money. That regular people pay to government.

WH: We’ve heard of that.

HS: It was an accident. An unintentional oversight.

WH: We’ve heard of that too.

HS: For about 16 years.

WH: Oh.

HS: Yes.

WH: How long have you been in public office?

HS: For about 16 years.

WH: Oh.

HS: What should we do?

WH: Well, you could pay the taxes.

HS: OK. OK. Hadn’t thought of that. I suppose we could.

But won’t it look funny to not pay 15 tax liens over 16 years? And then suddenly the day before the committee’s scheduled vote we pay them? What if USA Today goes poking around?

WH: They wouldn’t do that. The newspapers are all wrapped up in Sunday’s Pro Bowl.

HS: OK, we’ll pay the taxes Wednesday and say we’re gonna appeal them.

WH: Good. Then Thursday we’ll have the press secretary say that your own taxes are just fine. They are, aren’t they? And no decent American would want to penalize a hard-working wife for her husband’s mistakes. It worked for what’s-her-name up in New York.

HS: But I’m worried about Thursday’s vote.

WH: We’ll get the unions to turn up the heat on committee members. We’ve got the majority. We’ll be fine.

HS: OK, good.

WH: We’ll be OK as long as there’s no last-minute postponement of the vote.

HS: What about a boat?

WH: You’ll need one if you go in the river.

--Andrew Malcolm

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