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Why Daschle Stepped Down

Daschle at the Senate yesterday. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

President Obama's good friend, trusted advisor and would-be health czar withdrew his nomination as secretary of health and human services today as the controversy over his failure to pay back taxes threatened not only to distract attention from the president's agenda but tarnish the president's image.

A good deal of the public's excitement over Obama's presidency has to do with his repeated promise to make "a clean break from business as usual."

That's why his making exceptions from the rules for the people he considers really important had been rubbing so many people the wrong way.

Peter Baker wrote this morning in the New York Times: "During almost two years on the campaign trail, Barack Obama vowed to slay the demons of Washington, bar lobbyists from his administration and usher in what he would later call in his Inaugural Address a 'new era of responsibility.' What he did not talk much about were the asterisks.

"The exceptions that went unmentioned now include a pair of cabinet nominees who did not pay all of their taxes. Then there is the lobbyist for a military contractor who is now slated to become the No. 2 official in the Pentagon. And there are the others brought into government from the influence industry even if not formally registered as lobbyists....

"[W]hen faced with the perennial clash between campaign rhetoric and Washington reality, Mr. Obama has proved willing to compromise.

"'This is a big problem for Obama, especially because it was such a major, major promise,' said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. 'He harped on it, time after time, and he created a sense of expectation around the country. This is exactly why people are skeptical of politicians, because change we can believe in is not the same thing as business as usual.'"

Michael Scherer wrote in Time: "Barack Obama promised during his campaign that lobbyists 'would not get a job in my White House.'"

And while not technically a lobbyist, "Daschle, in fact, made millions of dollars since he left government doing stuff that looks, smells and tastes a lot like lobbying — work that led to the taxes flap that forced him to apologize to his former colleagues on Monday for what he called a 'completely inadvertent' mistake," Scherer writes. "And while it's that failure to pay that more than $128,000 in back taxes and interest that has briefly marred his confirmation as Secretary of Health and Human Services, it's the ethical gray area Daschle's advisory work represents that has called into question Obama's promises of changing the culture of Washington."

Daschle of course was only the second (of now three) nominees with a tax problem. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner was confirmed last week despite his failure to pay more than $25,000 in self-employment taxes.

Peter S. Canellos wrote in his Boston Globe column that the "cost to Obama could be considerable.

"Already, the tax avoidance of his nominees is giving fuel to the late-night comedians who have struggled to develop a take on the new administration. And Obama, whose high-mindedness at times verges on aloofness, will inevitably be attacked for putting his own team's sense of superiority - the belief that Geithner and Daschle are so talented that they're irreplaceable - ahead of the normal sense of accountability that would apply to people who fail to pay their taxes on time.

"Tolerating such lapses could also diminish Obama's moral leadership, the strong voice that rang out in condemning last week's news of the Wall Street bonuses. The president's ability to call a halt to irresponsible behavior by powerful people is needed to fulfill his pledge to reform the political system....

"Obama, whose righteousness has struck a chord with Middle America, would do well to express his own outrage, rather than try to shield his nominees behind his own considerable presence."

The New York Times editorial board this morning called for Daschle to step aside: "The American tax system depends heavily on voluntary compliance. It would send a terrible message to the public if we ignore the failure of yet another high-level nominee to comply with the tax laws."

And, the Times argued: "Mr. Daschle's financial ties to major players in the health care industry may prove to be even more troublesome as health reform efforts proceed....

"Mr. Daschle is another in a long line of politicians who move cozily between government and industry. We don't know that his industry ties would influence his judgments on health issues, but they could potentially throw a cloud over health care reform."

The San Francisco Chronicle editorial board wrote: "Obama needs to remember his campaign promise to restrict the influences of lobbying. Daschle, for all of his experience and knowledge of health care, has disqualified himself from this important position because of his own personal greed. The Senate should reject his nomination."

George Packer blogged for the New Yorker: "You can't usher in a shining period of good government by fudging your principles when it matters — with those closest to you....

"For Obama, it's especially important not to have a double standard. A lot of his influence in cleaning up the corruptions of the private sector will be rhetorical. To do what needs to be done with Wall Street, he'll need all the moral authority he can muster. If he allows two tax cheats into his cabinet, he's going to lose a portion of it before his Presidency is one month old."

And then along came number three this morning.

Michael D. Shear and Ed O'Keefe wrote for The Washington Post: "Nancy Killefer, the management consultant and former Treasury official who had been picked by President Obama to serve as the country's chief performance officer, has withdrawn from consideration for the post, White House officials confirmed this morning.

"In a two-paragraph resignation letter, Killefer indicated that controversy over failure to pay taxes by two other high-profile nominees of Obama's had convinced her to decline the new president's request to join his administration. Killefer had a tax lien placed on her house by the D.C. government in 2005 because she had not paid unemployment taxes for her household help."

By Dan Froomkin  |  February 3, 2009; 12:46 PM ET
Categories:  Ethics  
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Next: Obama Launches Media Blitz


Picking all these people already hurt Obama. It will be remembered. A lot of Senators will be reminded of this too. I thought I had heard he passed in the Senate 75 21 or something near those numbers

Posted by: lubes23 | February 3, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

After completing my 2008 taxes on Saturday, I discovered that I owe the Feds

Believe me, if I do not pay IRS will put a lien on my house and send me threatening letters every 30 days.

Posted by: forte11 | February 3, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Too bad Obama didn’t have the integrity to withdraw the nomination the moment he found out Dashle was a tax evader. Doesn’t say much for Obama’s credibility. Some change!

Posted by: lapagano | February 3, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

I just love it when campaigns meet reality. Maybe we should ask all Dems to 'fess up about taxes; that might make the stimulus right there.

Posted by: ronjaboy | February 3, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Daschle, what took you so long? You should be ashamed of yourself for the political capital you caused this administration. There are really no "free rides" and you should have known better.

Posted by: Gator76 | February 3, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

All of these Washington insiders with tax problems and lobbyists in need of exemptions hurt Obama's major capital -- his reputation for anti-Washington change and integrity. He has fallen victim to the belief that only Washington insiders can do the job. By all accounts, Phase 1 of the finance industry bailout was badly bungled, totally opaque, and a gift to the Wall Street powers that be, that also failed to free up the credit markets as it was supposed to. Geithner's association with that bailout really didn't constitute essential experience that needed to be taken on board along with a ton of warts. Nor do we need a lobbyist as #2 at the Pentagon. Pentagon reform is now a Bush holdover and a defense-industry lobbyist. Great! Daschle needed to be jettisoned quicker and not given a second vote of confidence. Geithner also needed to be cut loose. Obama is shedding his reputation in bits and pieces each day.

Posted by: allentown1 | February 3, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

This is terrible. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone! The tax people garnish my salary in these desperate times even stimulus monies are taken in whole -- and I need heating oil. So welcome to the club Mr. Daschle -- many of us have tax woes. Aside from that, AGAIN WE ARE THE LOSERS as Daschle would have been a formidable force in turning the tide in health care reform. I hope his replacement will have equally strong convictions to provide desperately needed health care to middle class American people -- we are paying and owing taxes and losing jobs -- while the greedy big wigs pocket billions of our tax money.

Posted by: carrisima | February 3, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

As a CPA I can totally understand what happen and was fine with Daschle being confirmed. But after reading this piece I concur that he should withdraw. Obama set a higher standard, he now has to achieve that standard, even if it means losing probably the best pick for the position. On another note, shouldn't the real message here be--the tax code is too complex. If top ranking people with money to pay big bucks to CPAs are making mistakes what about the average joe who is trying to do his own taxes.

Posted by: Virginia4 | February 3, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Daschle's case is hard to excuse. The first issue is that he was being paid large sums of money for no obvious reason besides his political connections. The second issue is the fact that the car and driver seem to have been pure favors. The third is the tax payment failure. It is hard to pass it off as an inadvertent mistake. Even if it was, the implication would be that Daschle was not sensitive to the fact that this large favor was income. That insensitivity would raise the question if Daschle knew the difference between a salary and a bribe.
On the other hand, Geithner's behavior most likely is just a little more careless than desirable for somewone with his responsibilities. The first big point with Geithner is that he has accepted a civil servent's salary when he could have pursued much larger pay in the private sector. The second big point is that his failure just involved not understanding that he needed to pay a tax that is normally paid directly by an employer. The exception is unusual enough that the standard IRS forms don't question it, the standard tax preparation software does not question it, and Geithner's accountant did not identify it as an issue. Moreover, all the information about Geithner's salary was reported to the IRS. The IRS had all the information that it needed to identify Geithner's failure and bill him for the unpaid taxes. The IMF appears to have had many instances of this problem and developed documentation to make the required procedures clear. Many people seem to have difficulty believing that Geithner did not read this documentation. I don't know how many of them read all the forms and mailings that arrive in their mail. I certainly don't read many of mine.

Posted by: dnjake | February 3, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Forte11 - I think the key word (or number, as the case may be) in your comment is "$702." I've made a few mistakes of several hundred bucks in my taxes too, most everyone probably has. It's the fact that Daschle made a $128,000 mistake that has everyone up in arms.

At a time when most of us are struggling to pay the rent and grocery bills, and reading news about Obama rightly lambasting the multimillion dollar Wall Street bonuses, the fact that his own nominees are underpaying the IRS to the tune of $128,000 reeks of hypocrasy, and exactly the sort of disconnect from the problems of everyday Americans that Obama promised to end.

Posted by: jersey_brian | February 3, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

I supported and voted for Obama. Now I'm waiting to see the "change we can believe in".

Did I blink as it flashed by me?

Posted by: binkynh | February 3, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

I hope Howard Dean gets the job.

Posted by: bdunn1 | February 3, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Gee, if I madea $100,000 tax "mistake" I'd be facing a lien on my property - or maybe jail.

Good riddance!

I voted Obama.

Posted by: onestring | February 3, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Kudos to Daschle for doing the right thing. I still don't think Obama and his crew had a clue how absolutely devastating this whole thing has been to his credibility on the issues he championed while campaigning. The people who supported him, many like myself who well knew the consequences of not making quarterly payments on employees and tax deposits but complied even when it hurt, I think felt wholly betrayed by what was beginning to look like a "bait and switch" performance between the campaign and the operation of the office. I hope a lesson has been learned. One set of rules for all, no exempt constituencies because of position, wealth or even ability.

Posted by: timjosh | February 3, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Am I the only one not really bothered by unpaid back taxes? As a tax paying citizen who, every year when she hits "submit" on TurboTax, hopes she properly filled in all the little blanks and is paying what is owed but really (and lets be honest folks) has no clue if its correct or not. And this is coming from someone who is well educated with a B.A. in economics and a law degree. So personally I can understand how mistakes get made. And I don't believe such errors should preclude an otherwise very well qualified person from a vital position in the current administration.

Posted by: sdposter | February 3, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Huh, as a lawyer who has worked with the taxes and the tax court, it is very rare that someone 'forgets' or 'misses' paying his/her taxes. This is especially true the richer you are. You don't pay until you are forced to pay (audited or someone rats on you or you get appointed to a political position wherein others look for at what you are hiding). The simple truth is that the rich are different from us and they get away with it. Obama should have just booted anyone who has tax 'troubles'.

I am always amazed that the rest of us just continue to pay our taxes. Is it any coincidence that the biggest tax we pay (those of us below the rich), the payroll tax, is taken out of our paychecks before we even see it? Geez, what would happen if we forgot to pay that? As a former small businessperson, I can tell you the IRS is just out of its mind aggressive about collecting that tax.

Posted by: bokun59 | February 3, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: forte11
"After completing my 2008 taxes on Saturday, I discovered that I owe the Feds

Believe me, if I do not pay IRS will put a lien on my house and send me threatening letters every 30 days."

If you do not pay, you'll be closer to qualifying for an Obaman adminstration post.

Posted by: ahashburn | February 3, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

It continues to amaze me that the paper that built it's modern reputation on investigation is once again not able to crack exactly why Daschle owed $128K in TAXES for car services. What the heck was he doing with that car and driver anyway????

Posted by: tedr1 | February 3, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Obama apparently owed a lot to Daschle because of Daschle's early mentoring of his campaign for the Presidency. However, it is clear to me that Obama had to be totally unaware of Daschle's activities since Daschle left the Senate particularly in health care field. Since these activites anti-refor, Obama would have seen him as a detriment the Obama health care program. It is good that Daschle is gone.

Posted by: adhardwick | February 3, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

The vetting team discovered that Geithner, Daschle, and Killefer had not paid their taxes. Something similar happened with Richardson.

Obama offered them the jobs nonetheless.

Whose fault is it?

Posted by: tropicalfolk | February 3, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

romjaboy and lapango,

So if the Dems come clean about their Tax problems, when will the GOP Senators finally confront their closeted gay sex addicts?

Posted by: rharring | February 3, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad Daschle's gone, he was corrupted by industry as soon as he left Congress. That said, I think Obama is still a work in progress and I'm willing to give him a pass on this provided he has learned his lesson - say what you mean and MEAN WHAT YOU SAY!

Posted by: BigTunaTim | February 3, 2009 2:02 PM | Report abuse

I really am glad that Daschle has dropped out. He has continued to refer to the health care problem as an "insurance problem" saying that the solution is to get all Americans affordable health insurance. I disagree. The solution is to get all Americans affordable Health Care. The first takes care of the insurance industry (whom Daschle has taken big bucks from) versus addressing the problem of affordable health care.

Posted by: naiverealist | February 3, 2009 2:02 PM | Report abuse

New administration with a bunch of old crook! Change? Anyone?

Posted by: infoshop | February 3, 2009 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Howard Dean is the obvious replacement for Daschle. In fact, he should have been the obvious first choice for HHS!

Posted by: JC505 | February 3, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Tom Daschle himself said he dropped out this morning after READING THE NY TIMES, who published an article yesterday on his influence peddling and the specious lobbyist loophole he had which is endemic in washington. Yesterday your paper only talked about his tax problems and maintained he was a shoe in. I wasn't alive during Watergate, but I understand this used to be a paper of influence and investigation. Seems like the Times has trumped you and become the paper of truth telling.

Posted by: drgirl | February 3, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

I think it's the right thing for Daschle to withdraw his name; it's unfortunate that Obama loses a capable man who could have done great thing to improve the health care situation in the US.
WHAT I WOULD LIKE TO SEE though IS FOR EVERY MEMBER OF CONGRESS'S TAX RETURN TO BE AUDITED TO SEE IF ALL OF THEM CAN SAY WITH CONVICTION THAT THEY DID NOT MISS ANY TAX THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN PAID. Otherwise it's hypocrisy in the extreme to criticize nominees who had to bare all info but not the questions ie. Senators. Let's demand all senators come clean with any tax evasion, intentional, inadvertent or not.

Posted by: Bangkokian | February 3, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

I'm purchasing Quicken Home & Professional version for $100 to send to Mr. Daschle. He clearly needs it. This is the product my small business uses to make sure I track and report ALL my consulting income to the IRS so they don't throw me in jail! When you don't report income it is called TAX EVASION. The bottom line is that if we take Misters Daschle & Geithner at their word and these were "mistakes" and everyone says they are really smart guys, then clearly 99% of America is not smart enough to be able to accurately pay their taxes. Time to go to a national sales tax and eliminate income tax and all its bizarre regs. Maybe then we can get some nominees through confirmation without "tax problems."

Posted by: VABusiness | February 3, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

This whole Daschle debacle has left a bitter taste in many American taxpayers'
mouth for good reason. If, indeed, the revolving door from congressional service into lobbying is left open and unchallenged, or simply ignored by Obama
and his staff, then the American people
will be the losers. Losers because we voted
for a man who promised more than he appears
able to deliver; losers because once again
politics and politicians are simply sleazy
and fall far below our expectations.

Posted by: dvdgldfdn | February 3, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

It's kind of a Catch-22. On the one hand, a person who knows how to broker a deal in Washington is needed, especially for such a large-scale sweeping program as health care reform. On the other hand, the people who tend to know how to broker said deals are Congressmen, former Congressmen and/or lobbyists and these are the people who are going to have tax, nanny or _____ problems (insert your chosen form of graft here).

Everybody keeps talking about how the Wall Street CEOs are clueless, well, we have our own peculiar brand of cluelessness right here in DC. At least Daschle has provided us with a new litmus test of sorts to peg potential offenders up front: Just look for the guy in the back seat who has a car and driver that somebody gifted to him. He'll be the guy that needs to be closely scrutinized.

Daschle was right to step down. But I think he downplayed his tax issues to the Obama team and that was wrong.

Head's up to all of you Washington insiders. It's time for you to behave responsibly, too. Car and driver. Take the Metro or the L-2. Hell, Rummy does!

Posted by: NW_Washington | February 3, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

President Obama needs to have a meeting today with his transition team and kick a little butt. Having paid your taxes and having been convicted of a felony should be the first two questions asked of every nominee. The fact that three of his nominees have "confessed" to not having paid their taxes is an embarrassment and a serious blow to the new President's credibility. I'm disappointed as are many of us who supported and voted for our President.

Posted by: Sailorman29 | February 3, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Tax evasion in the US is rampant, especially among the upper classes. Palin judges paying taxes as unpatiotic. You can bet the Republicans are at least as guilty.

The IRS needs to be given more resources to track tax evaders. We could find upwards of $150 Billion in unpaid taxes.
Remember those bogus "IRS hounded me for taxes" stories the Republicans paraded through hearings? Then they relaxed and defunded enforcement. Time for some accounting...

Posted by: mpinney1 | February 3, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Don't think this will be the last of the tarnished administration. What the process showed was that Obama is more stubborn than Bush and will do what he pleases, the public, and their outrage, be damned.

Posted by: llrllr | February 3, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

If Obama gets in too much trouble for this he can always nuke Iran. That seems to be the only way out of a scandal in the bizzaro world of American politics.

Posted by: davidbn27 | February 3, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

I really would like to think that these three are good, bright people who screwed up. Although it is certainly possible that they purposely underpaid their tax liabilities, I doubt it. I am more in the camp of the CPA from Virginia who suggests that the tax code is just way too complicated. If these folks have a hard time with taxes, including one who will be responsible for enforcing them, then I think it's proof that we need to abolish the tax code and replace it with a simple tax that every potential taxpayer can understand and comply with whether that be a flat or fair or national sales tax.

Doesn't that just scream out at you?

Posted by: jturner16 | February 3, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Tom Daschle was and is a man of integrity. Take that from one who lives in his home town and has met and listened to Tom numerous times. He made a serious mistake in not realizing the tax liability that "gifts" carry, possibly in getting into the luxury lap of fat advisors in the first place. However, we have ALL lost the benefit of a well informed person who knows how to get things done on Capital Hill and of a man who cares about real people, rich and poor!! Jim Seeber

Posted by: seeberj | February 3, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Daschle should have stepped aside, that said, let those without tax sin cast the first stone. I would bet my last dollar, and thats coming real soon, that congress and the other high flyers have short paid. Or not paid at all. The code is complex and not easy to keep up with. Which is why many go to a tax preparer or CPA.

Posted by: nstein1 | February 3, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

we need to call this what it is....TAX EVASION. I am sick and tired of hearing all of the people who excoriated the Bushies for this kind of behavior doing a 180 and defending these people.

we can't possibly prove that dems are any better at running things when the people who are up for key posts are guilty of the same corrupt behavior as their predecessors.

Posted by: petrysl | February 3, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

I'll bet his children are proud of Dad being a tax cheat and having to withdraw from a Cabinet Post. His grandchildren will also be proud! Daschle only thinks of himself and deserves to be embarrassed!

Posted by: fpcooper1 | February 3, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

@llrllr: "What the process showed was that Obama is more stubborn than Bush and will do what he pleases, the public, and their outrage, be damned."

Now that's funny. Get some perspective on life and try again.

Posted by: BigTunaTim | February 3, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

When I was reading Tom Daschle's book on health care, i found it curious as to why he thought a single payer system would get killed in the political i have doubts. his motives may have been to protect the insurance industry..Single payer is sounding better every day..

Posted by: notmd | February 3, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Occam's Razor works well here.

He cheated, he got caught.

"not all great Neptune's ocean can wash this tax cheat / Clean from my hand."

Apologies to the Bard

Posted by: jgfox39 | February 3, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Fine, Daschle is stepping down, but yesterday President Obama said he absolutely supported him. This is nothing less than cronyism in its worst form, heading down the slippery slope to out and out corruption. He's broken the most sacred vow of his campaign in his first two weeks in office. I should know, I've been an Obama supporter from day one.

Posted by: bxgoddard | February 3, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Let's be serious for a moment - The ONLY reason Daschle stepped down was to make room for another Obamoron crony, Kwame Kilpatrick, the ex con, ex Detroit mayor.

He's tested under fire as he has already served his jail time - fine qualities in Obamorons mind I'm sure.

Posted by: Bcamp55 | February 3, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

I supported and voted for Obama. Now I'm waiting to see the "change we can believe in".

Did I blink as it flashed by me?

Posted by: binkynh | February 3, 2009 1:49 PM
The only 'change' you can believe in is nickles, dimes, and quarters. The big lie about 'change' was for getting elected. The big lie about 'no lobbyist' was for getting elected. I hope that is abundantly clear for everyone at this point. Now that the filthy egghead is elected, its time to count your change as that may be all we, or our children, have left after the 'stimulus'. These are politicians and they are all the same regardless of affiliation.

Posted by: splitbill | February 3, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse

I think he should nominate Sarah Palin next. If being able to see Russia from Alaska qualified her to be VP, then the fact that she has seen doctors should qualify her to head HHS and healthcare reform.

Posted by: citycountryguy | February 3, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse

I feel for Mr. Daschle.

I just did my taxes this weekend. I've checked the figures and my forms, but there is just this nagging sense that I've forgotten something.

Daschle paid taxes, he wasn't like the wingnuts who claim that the income tax amendment was never ratified or any of those other conspiracy tax theorists.

Posted by: suelee | February 3, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse

if you looked close enough you would probably find that 50% of DC. POLITICIANS HAVE TAX PROBLEMS.whats scary is they say they didn't know!and they even think we beleve them.

Posted by: rgmittelstadt | February 3, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Few persons over 40 with a semblance of wealth and a normal life story can stand under the hot light of scrutiny directed on candidates for high office. If the bar is set too high, we'll have no candidates.

President Obama's good intentions are meeting with Washington's harsh reality.

Posted by: gauntowl | February 3, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

The question that no commenter I noticed seems to be asking is, "Did Daschle jump or was he pushed?" Given what happened this morning with Nancy Killefer, I rather suspect Daschle was pushed very hard. Perhaps Pres. Obama has gotten the message that he can't issue too many "exemptions" in the environment which he helped create.

All the same, given the political culture we've had for decades, it's hard to find someone who's served in government for a long time who ISN'T ethically tarnished in some way or another. In that vein, I repeat a comment I made on this subject on TPM...

"I have to give my wife credit for this. She notes that by nominating Timothy Geithner and Tom Daschle, the IRS has ended up recovering about $175,000 in back taxes, penalties and interest.

It certainly shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that such shenanigans are endemic to our congresscritters of any party at any time. But it does suggest a bold and profitable course for Pres. Obama to take.

Why doesn't Obama simply nominate every single living past or present member of Congress for something? In the ensuing confirmation process, the IRS might well take in enough money to obliterate the National Debt!"

Posted by: wkorn | February 3, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

These tax problems should really be a teaching moment for the Obama Administration. He needs to use his bully pulpit to describe how the tax system is overly complex and too easily avoided; how the wealthy steal more by not paying their taxes than all the common criminals ever could; and that the tax system needs to be revised to tax things we don't want, like pollution, rather than things we do want, like people working and doing stuff. He also could have tied this to Wall Street and gone on about how the wealthy think they don't have to live by the rules that common people do, but that is over on his watch. In fact, he will make the rich abide by TOUGHER rules!!

Posted by: djoelt1 | February 3, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Two comments:
If the bar is high for public office holders, people with those aspirations will behave better before they get there.

The flat tax, is already here: I just did a study for hypothetical earners in CA at 4 levels ranging from 40 k to 340k and under the current tax system, the 40k earner paid a higher percentage of their income in taxes than the person making 340k. That is how it is today. You add in payroll (just the employee portion to make it look BETTER), sales tax, state tax, etc, and the 40k person is paying 31% of their income while the 340k person is paying about 27% of their income (assuming each person owns a home worth 3X their salary, and saves an increasing amount of their net income the more they make).

So, we already have a flat tax system. We could change the calculation of the gross adjusted income, or change what is taxed, but changing the rates ain't a simplification.

Posted by: djoelt1 | February 3, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

naiverealist and notmd: well said! (read their comments above if you haven't already).

Daschle can't remove the deadly parasites destroying the health care system if he's made his fortune being one of them. Private insurers are the cancer, and this man does not have the cure.

Posted by: otm_shank | February 3, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

citycountryguy- To measure President Obama thus far-
Inaccurate historical statements during the Al-Arabya interview,
condoms as "Stimulus" spending (everyone knows they de-sensitize!)
and now the nominations of 3 admitted tax cheats,I guess you should question his qualifications for President rather than Gov. Palin's qualifications for Vice-President.

Posted by: Yank_in_italy | February 3, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

I feel somewhat sorry for Geithner and Daschle, but not sorry enough that they failed [of their own volition] to pay the taxes owed to IRS. Had they been any one of us, we would have been hounded by the IRS until we made a payment or taken to court and possibly even put into jail. But more importantly, I am sorry that Daschle, although not being a "registered lobbyist", was, nonetheless, absolutely a lobbyist since he was paid handsomely for his expert advice. The fact that he had been in the Senate gave him all the more credence with the insurance companies he was advising. Predicated on this knowledge, Obama should have immediately told Daschle that he had to withdraw his name because he had been, until the point of nomination, "acting in the capacity of a lobbyist" which equates to a very LOATHESOME WORD in his administration these days. Obama promised to keep lobbyists out of his WH and bring change to DC. During his campaign, Obama did NOT state that, "no lobbyists, EXCEPT THOSE HE MADE EXCEPTIONS FOR, would work in his WH" - he stated, "NO LOBBYISTS" would work in his WH.

After all, the reason he was elected was because he made these 'promises' and WE BELIEVED HIM. Now, with only two weeks of being our POTUS, we begin to see hints of 'exceptions' being made to accommodate friends, and I'm certain that none of us want to silently admit to the question rolling around in our brains, but we must. I am not the only person who now wonders if Obama is really going to 'break or renig on' other promises he made to us, and to even have to silently ask that question, hurts because one can't just trust another person A LITTLE BIT. One is either 'in all the way', or 'not at all' - and that's what hurts. Knowing that 'trust' has been eroded even a tiny bit is so troubling and disappointing. We know we will hang in there for a little while longer, however, if we hear of even a hint at another promise being fudged, we know we will have gotten 'taken' again by another politician and nothing can begin to replace or repair that damage. And the even larger cause is all the other pols who have broken so many promises over the years, and this one was truly different - better, so we thought. Oh yes, that really hurts and once again turns me into an apolitical animal.

Posted by: MadasHelinVA | February 3, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Head's up to all of you Washington insiders. It's time for you to behave responsibly, too. Car and driver. Take the Metro or the L-2. Hell, Rummy does!

Posted by: NW_Washington | February 3, 2009 2:16 PM

You let me know when you see any members of Congress (past or present) on the route L-2 metro bus. Even at Chevy Chase Circle!

I am glad that Daschle is toast. I agree that these three cheats, Killefer, Geithner and Daschle, will stick to Barack-man Hussein Overdrive.

Having said that, I think it's still early in the game. Too early to call BHO unscrupulous, incorrigibly thick or a failed president. It's been TWO WEEKS. Give the man a minute before you have your conniption.

Posted by: crix | February 3, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

There's another wrinkle to the Daschle car & driver story: Some corporation paid the driver(s), maintained the car(s), received deductions for businees expenses and, as a result, presumably, paid less taxes than were due. I hope someone at IRS goes after all such abuses.

Posted by: garg | February 3, 2009 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Sad. I want to see Team Obama move forward. Alas, instances like this are facts of life and may be used by the right wing nuts to propitiate him for their own ignorance and sins. They elected W. TWICE for the executive office !!! Four times if you live in Texas!
Still I hope for the best.

Posted by: drum_sing | February 3, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

What gets me about some of these posters is their constant animosity towards Obama, the glee in every stumble. Some of these posters probably voted for George Bush. Let me say that NOTHING that any of these nominees have done, even the ones that have withdrawn, compares with the corruption of the last administration. You want torture? Just ask the V.P. or attorney general. Want a war based on lies and deceit? Hey, just ask the president, the defense secretary, or the national security advisor. Want to spend billions of tax payers money with absolutely no return? Just hire Halburton.

Nothing that this administration can do can possibly equal the incompetance, the deceit, the lies, of the Bush presidency. And I would like to see that acknowledged since I have yet to see an indictment of any in that criminal crowd.

No matter what Obama does he stands far above FAR FAR above - in integrity, intelligence, and competance - over Georg Bush. So leave him alone until he does have his team in and you Bush supporters should just shut up and stop posting in intelligent newspapers such as this one. Go back to Fox News and the Weekly Standard, the news media of the corrupt and the mentally challenged.

Posted by: nyrunner101 | February 3, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Why should anybody be surprised about Obama hypocrisy? He came from corrupt Chicago machine and is as corrupt as anybody up there. Remember his pastor and Ayers?
You get what you elect. GIGO

Posted by: igorkh | February 3, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: sdposter | February 3, 2009 1:56 PM

As you use TurboTax, I also have used it for years, however, I made a $3,000 mistake on Federal and a $1,060 mistake on State. So despite the program stating it checks for errors, if a human being makes a mistake, there is simply no way a computer can figure that out. Just thought you might want to know!

Posted by: MadasHelinVA | February 3, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

@nyrunner101: "Go back to Fox News and the Weekly Standard, the news media of the corrupt and the mentally challenged."

That's actually one of the larger problems facing contemporary politics, in my opinion. Republicans have set up a parallel media structure that exists solely to propagate falsehoods and distortions. Point this out and they'll claim that's what all other media outlets are for the Democrats. It's a ridiculous claim but they make it effectively enough that even this paper - supposed bastion of the liberal elite - finds the need to hire FIVE neoconservatives for its op end pages (shame on you, WaPo).

I use my neocon boss as an example - he wakes up to FOX and Friends, listens to right wing hate radio on the way in to work, surfs Drudge all day, and then it's more FOX when he gets home. He hears one consistent, coordinated message throughout the day and, with this "reality" left unchallenged, he can't fathom why anyone wouldn't want to be a Republican. It's mostly sad, but the consequences in aggregate become scary.

Posted by: BigTunaTim | February 3, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Obama has been exposed! He spoke of change without having the backbone to clean up the mess in DC. Daschle, Geithner, Richardson, and Killefer are all corrupt. Obama is a fraud!

Posted by: mthisius | February 3, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

nyrunner101 kind of has a point. After torture, illegal eavesdropping, extraordinary renditions, altered intelligence, contractor waste, wasted lives, and lies, lies, lies, lies, it's almost refreshing to get back to the good, old-fashioned Washington filth.

And it's almost amusing to see newspapers who could barely be bothered to scrape up a minimal amount of outrage about the above, get in all high dudgeon over the tax issue.

Whatever. It's the press' duty to keep politicians honest and on their toes. I just wish they were this vigilant for the past 8 years.

Posted by: alphahelix | February 3, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Obama's promises made on the campaign trail bear no resemblance to reality. He did what all politicians do to get elected: promise the moon, but give them green cheese. It may or may not be that he knew about all of the tax problems and the lobbyists who lobby, but are not registered as lobbyists. Even giving him the benefit of the doubt, one has to wonder why he didn't insist that these people drop out immediately. These fiascos have gotten many who support him to rethink their options.

Posted by: Diogenes | February 3, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Isn't tax evasion what they used to get Al Capone?

Posted by: bmschumacher | February 3, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Barack is finding out what he probably knew in some back corner of his mind but didn't fully grasp until it started hitting him in the chops: America is divided into the Special People and the regular people. The Special People do what they want and get away with it. Most of those in the game in Washington, in business, in any part of society that pays well and confers insider authority are Special. It's very difficult to tap into this reservoir without picking up buckets full of tax evaders, cheaters, adulterers, addicts, etc, because these people have never had to play by the rules. They're "surprised" when it occasionally bites one of them because the possibility that one could actually get in trouble has become so distant. The rest of us--the regular people--we live in a constant state of anxiety about it biting us even though we don't actively cheat, lie and break the law because we know that agencies like the IRS are often petty, unfair and inexplicably stupid.

Posted by: SanDiegoBS | February 3, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

I am glad Daschle is gone as I have real problems with ex-congressmen and senators and even presidents who forget where they came from and take up residence in Washington because that's where the money spigot stays on. But I also think that getting away with "business as usual" should mean getting away with this sort of character assasination politics (and journalism). While all the cowboys put another notch in their gun today, nobody seems to mention the much more important issue of health care that Daschle was supposed to tackle. (Serious question: if your boss picked you up on his way to work and gave you a ride to work, would that count as taxable income?)
In general, I think Obama was trying to avoid the mistake that Jimmy Carter made, coming to town with a reformist agenda and staying away from hiring any Washington insiders, thus guaranteeing that that agenda would never get anywhere. If that means putting a few people in the administration who qualify as "business as usual," so be it.

Posted by: hillforg | February 3, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Don't blame President Obama for the inperfections of others, I am positive if President Obama had any knowledge of the tax problems of these nominees he would not have choosen them for the post, everyone is so quick to criticise this man, If he were a white man would people be as outraged, I don't think so. Let's not forget the lies and deception of the Bush administration. Give President Obama a chance to prove he is a "MAN" of his word.

Posted by: blewisbrooks | February 3, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Obama built his campaign on CHANGE, CHANGE, CHANGE. Well, so far.... he is turning out to be nothing more than business as usual. He lied to us.

Posted by: jacksplat1 | February 3, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

"These fiascos have gotten many who support him to rethink their options."

"I'm certain that none of us want to silently admit to the question rolling around in our brains, but we must."

"He's broken the most sacred vow of his campaign in his first two weeks in office. I should know, I've been an Obama supporter from day one."

Today's GOP talking point for the 101st Fightin' Keyboardists is making itself quite evident here: claim to be a disappointed Obama voter who has almost given up all hope because corruption still exists in government two weeks after his election.

Posted by: BigTunaTim | February 3, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

It does make sense now though why Obama and the Democratic leadership don't believe that lowering the tax burden on the average American is a good thing.

If you don't pay taxes yourselves, it's tough to empathize with that strata of American who does.

Posted by: JimmyCarter | February 3, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

President Obama should remember that the average taxpayer in this country would be afraid to pull this type of tax evasion that Daschle pulled and resents it highly when people who do these types of things seem to get a free pass.

We find it highly insulting and it would appear that there are two different sets of laws in this country. One for the average American and one for the rich American.

President Obama should not have put Sen. Daschle's name up for nomination for the HHS post if he knew Daschle had a tax problem.

It makes the President look like a hypocrite and it makes the average American taxpayer wonder why he's showing such laxness and favoritism after all of his campaign promises.

Posted by: JaneDoe4 | February 3, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Keep in mind that Mr. Obama did not know about the problems, or at least not their extent, when he chose these people. Few of us could undergo such close scrutiny of our tax returns and other financial records without discovering some problems, most unintentional. (The IRS audits only a small percentage of returns; I believe statistics show that most errors are discovered and reported by the taxpayers themselves or by their preparers.) The amounts involved in high-profile cases are larger than they would be for most of us, but probably not much different in proportion to total income.

Posted by: leslie13 | February 3, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Regarding as to whether Daschle jumped or was pushed, based on what we know of Obama as a very smart guy, he was almost certainly pushed into the deep.

Having Daschle walk the plank was the appropriate response from Obama who, native intelligence aside, probably genuinely wants to reform Washington.

Posted by: trobador | February 3, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Say hello to President Palin in 2012....this administration is unraveling faster than I thought

Posted by: tom2 | February 3, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

There went the baby with the bathwater.

Obviously a serious offense, but it is a shame Sen. Daschle had to recuse himself. He is a good man - and if his worst offense is him coming to realize his involuntary (I have no reason to think otherwise) tax evasion now, I'd take him. Over the countless no-gooders that are currently residing in the Senate and House.

Posted by: Pillai | February 3, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Glad Dashchel stepped down. There is no excuse for not paying taxes, especially someone as "smart" as Dashchel. There are too many unanswered questions as to how he earned his salary. Geithner should step down as well -- how can we have confidence in the Secretary of Treasury to help straigthen this economic nightmare that our Nation is in if he can't do HIS taxes.

Posted by: Halo7 | February 3, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

DOUBLETALK. LIES. COVERUP. SWINDLERS. Imagine, just imagine, what the far left scum would have done to Palin. Over 600 private jets landed in DC for the inauguration: carbon air-print. Rostenkowksi, the amateur, stole stamps. These criminals go for the whole enchilada.

Posted by: craigslsst | February 3, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

You just have to love the hypocrisy of Republicans caterwauling about tax compliance or avoidance. They've spent the last 30 years generally, and the last 14 especially, doggedly rewriting the tax code to favor their friends---the wealthy and corporate America. They've engaged in every tactic they could to squeeze every last cent from lobbyists, and then compounded it by using Capitol Hill experience as a shuttle bus to lobbying wealth. And NOW they're "shocked, just shocked" at these few and far between instances of tax problems. Talk about mealy mouthed illustrates exactly what Republicans are--people who will tell you what to be afraid of and whom to blame, but offering no solutions, simply sniping at what solutions are offered. A party of negative sound bites and small intellects that simply yells NO to everything but self aggrandizment. A loooooooooooonnnnnnnnnggggggggggg way from the party of Lincoln

Posted by: bklyndan22 | February 3, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

"...I am positive if President Obama had any knowledge of the tax problems of these nominees he would not have choosen them for the post..."

"Keep in mind that Mr. Obama did not know about the problems, or at least not their extent, when he chose these people."

Posts like these, besides their naivete', raise a point missed here. My issue with Obama goes back to my pre-election worries - that he has zero executive experience.

A good "manager" needs to have good people and be involved personally in the screening process. If they missed these tax cheats through background checks and interviews, then they're incompetent. If they found out about the tax issues beforehand and ignored them, then they're both incompetent and amoral.

I truly hope nothing of a 9/11-level disaster occurs while we have this unproven "leader."

Posted by: sxh1 | February 3, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

I'm not condoning tax cheats. But I will tell you that there is no way that the "car and driver" gift would have become a tax problem for Daschle if he had not been nominated. The IRS would not have caught this any more than they would catch your babysitter accepting cash payments.

Now I have to go figure out how to amend my taxes without a 1099 from my carpool....

Posted by: mikeinmidland | February 3, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

After only two weeks in office, just feel like the wind has been taken out of our sails. Like millions, I trusted Obama. Now, I question everything he says. I wonder if someone has merely written a script for him to read, and really wonder if there is someone else behind the screen pulling the strings. Obama has misled the folks that put him in office by nominating the people he has nominated. Is a 'TAX CHEAT' truly the only --and best -- person we can find to head our tresury department??
I am just sorely disappointed in President Obama. His actions during the past two weeks are NOT WHAT I VOTED FOR!!

Posted by: wheeljc | February 3, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

After only two weeks in office, I don't feel like the wind has been taken out of our sails. Like millions, I STILL trust Obama.

I've always questioned everything Rush says. I wonder if someone has merely written a script for him to read, and really wonder if there is someone else behind the screen pulling the strings.

Posted by: mikeinmidland | February 3, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

It's not like Daschle molested children.

Obama nominated a guy who went to the mat for him for almost two years, a guy who on the surface was more than qualified. It's what loyal friends do .. not forget who got them there. He gave Daschle his chance to defend himself .. not to be.

So we move on. Daschle was a great pick but hardly indispensable. Loyalty and commitment is indispensable. Obama did his part for his friend. And now we move on.

Posted by: tslats | February 3, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

"It's not like Daschle molested children."

So let me get this right. As long as you're a good and loyal friend of the pres, anything you do short of molesting children should not disqualify you from a cabinet position.

Great post. I guess you fell for the "Change" line, huh?

Posted by: sxh1 | February 3, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

"Threatened to tar the presidents image"?????

Obama's image is as tarred as Froomkin's face is after blowing the male cast of Riverdance.

Posted by: ImpeachObama | February 3, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Thomas Daschle did a terrible disservice to President Obama. President Obama's instincts have been terrible on the appearance problem of tax dodging by public officials.

The President now looks hypocritical on ethics and ineffectual in standing up to Washington's old corrupt ways.

Were Bill Clinton's first 100 days this bad?

Posted by: DagnyT | February 3, 2009 4:26 PM | Report abuse

"I wasn't alive during Watergate, but I understand this used to be a paper of influence and investigation."

I WAS alive during Watergate, and I remember the well-deserved reputation of the Post for investigative journalism. Unfortunately, this reputation has dulled over the years, culminating in the schizophrenic coverage during the run-up to the Iraq war (one day critical for every three days of cheerleading, lurching endlessly back and forth).

I guess newspapers have to decide whether they want to be friends with the elite, or maintain detachment and either earn the elite's respect or emnity. Great newspapers opt for the latter.

Posted by: tedb1 | February 3, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

When will you people admit to the elephant in the room, people already know that Daschle didn't "do the right thing" and withdraw, he was canned, just like Rotten Richardson! Have some integrity already!

Posted by: lightnin001 | February 3, 2009 4:51 PM | Report abuse

tslats: It is not Oba-wan's job to do his part for his friend, it's his job to to his part for the country!

Posted by: lightnin001 | February 3, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Republicans complaining about integrity is like a pig complaining about horse sh*t.

Posted by: medogsbstfrnd | February 3, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

I feel President Obama has been embarassed with the
several persons whose unpaid taxes have become the
reason they shall have not accepted any position in our president's circle. These individuals, by actually daring to jump in to gain such positions have indicated that they are not the caliber persons who shall serve the American taxpayers......How dare they presume to be worthy of any kind of leadership in the government of the truth, .they should have declined. As well, the IRS should be 'changed' perhaps a sales tax is the answer. Spend/pay tax....
a lesson for all today.

Posted by: manooshag | February 3, 2009 5:45 PM | Report abuse

All you Dittoheads are so obvious. We know you didn't vote for Obama and you are ecstatic, not upset at all. And the moron gearing up for Palin in 2012 better watch out for what he wishes for. America will be very lucky if President Obama is able to lead us back to functionality. It was the actions of these Republican morons that got us to this point and they now want to imped recovery because thats what boss Limpbaugh tells them. What scum you faux conservatives are. Wasn't eight years of Bush/Cheney theft and corruption enough for you f*ing morons? Obviously not since you take your orders from Limpbaugh, the new Republican king!

Posted by: trbajaz | February 3, 2009 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Daschle should have withdrawn his name as soon as his tax troubles came up in the vetting process.

Still he will be a bigger loss to the administration than Geithner would have been or Killefer or the #2 guy at the Pentagon who was made an exception to the no registered lobbyists rule at Gates request BTW. Daschle knows the Senate well and is well liked and respected in Congress. Two traits that go a long, long way in the Senate.

Losing Daschle is a disappointment and I can understand his mistake more than I understand Geithner's. There definitely could confusion about the pay for the car and whether it was part of his compensation or not. In Geithner's case I think he just did not want to pay the taxes. Anyone who knows anything about being self-employed knows you have to pay both sides of Medicare and Social Security taxes. How could a guy be that stupid and be head of the Treasury department? If I was going to pick one to fight for it would have been Daschle and not Geithner!

Posted by: troyd2009 | February 3, 2009 6:02 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: trbajaz | February 3, 2009 5:47 PM:

"All you Dittoheads are so obvious." "And the moron gearing up for Palin in 2012..." "Republican morons..." "What scum you faux conservatives are..." "you f*ing morons?"

Perhaps by the time you've graduated from 7th grade you will have the capacity to make a reasoned argument.

And the maturity to know that f-bombs are not persuasive, impressive nor a credit to whoever you seek to champion.

Unfortunately, such propensity for foul-mouthed, accusatory rants cloaked in anonymity cuts across party lines. Part of the Internet's dark-side.

Take your que from President Obama. It's hard to imagine him cursing or even yelling. His calm demeanor is far more effective.

Posted by: DagnyT | February 3, 2009 6:05 PM | Report abuse

"A good "manager" needs to have good people and be involved personally in the screening process. If they missed these tax cheats through background checks and interviews, then they're incompetent. If they found out about the tax issues beforehand and ignored them, then they're both incompetent and amoral."

It is not realistic to expect the pre-nomination checks and interviews -- by a team charged with vetting dozens, if not a hundred or more potential appointees -- to uncover items missed by employers and their accountants, the taxpayers and their CPAs, and others. Hundreds of thousands of people file amended returns every year -- I've done it twice -- to correct mistakes we or our CPAs find the next year. Yes, we need to hold public servants to high standards -- but not impossible ones.

Posted by: leslie13 | February 3, 2009 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm, Now we know why it seems lowering taxes for the democrats is irrelevant...because paying them is

Posted by: DD163 | February 3, 2009 6:29 PM | Report abuse

I think it wonderful that this happened! Tells the big boys in the Senate, Wall Street, Avenue K (is that where the lobbyists hold out), AND the world that we, the American people, are NOT going to put up with non-payment of taxes, or any other shenanigans.

It's a real education in civics for us all.

And I did vote for Obama and am an ardent supporter. I sent him at message at dawn this morning telling him that Daschle had to withdraw his name becaue I have never seen such unanimity: general disapproval of Daschle.

Posted by: FedUp1 | February 3, 2009 6:47 PM | Report abuse

First Obama has to cut the sequence of war crimes high crimes and misdeameanours. If not, he'll become a war criminal within a month.

Posted by: hankomatic1 | February 3, 2009 6:52 PM | Report abuse

"Daschle stepped down" don't believe for a minute he did so voluntarily he was fored to resign. Remember who works at the White House - Rahm Emanuel doesn't pull his punches do you really think he was going to let this continue - NO.

Posted by: rlj1 | February 3, 2009 6:54 PM | Report abuse

I have to say, at least Daschle withdrew on his own. When I think of Republicans like Alberto Gonzales and Monika Goodling, Tom Daschle seems like an honorable person to make the decision to take himself out of the political spotlight rather than become the focus of anti-Obama foment. Kudos to Daschle.

Posted by: ChokoChuckles | February 3, 2009 6:55 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad Daschle's gone. I hope Obama makes it clear to everyone in his administration that taking liberties with ethical obligations will not be tolerated. Given the pervasive culture of corruption in government over the last years, i'd understand a several month period of amnesty for people to come clean and settle's hard to stay walk straight when the path has been torn up with corruption. However, i think it's critical to Obama's promise of reform and change that such lapses not be whitewashed any longer.

Posted by: las100 | February 3, 2009 6:57 PM | Report abuse

From AP --

WASHINGTON – Barack Obama on Tuesday abandoned his nomination fight for Tom Daschle and a second high-profile appointee who failed to pay all their taxes, fearing ugly confirmation battles that would undercut his claims to ethical high ground and cripple his presidency in just its second week. "I screwed up," Obama declared.

"It's important for this administration to send a message that there aren't two sets of rules — you know, one for prominent people and one for ordinary folks who have to pay their taxes," Obama said in one of a series of interviews with TV anchors.

"I'm frustrated with myself, with our team. ... I'm here on television saying I screwed up," Obama said on NBC's "Nightly News with Brian Williams." He repeated virtually the same words in several other interviews.

Posted by: svreader | February 3, 2009 7:44 PM | Report abuse

Daschle hardly deserves an "attaboy" for removing himself from the nomination. He's tainted in more ways than one and should never have been offered for the HHS position. Daschle has never done anything for me in all his public service and I'm not a charter member democrat in his fan club. And Obama, well he needs to keep his nose out of 2nd grade classrooms and in the business at hand. Daschle was a mistake as several others have been and Obama alone should shoulder the blame for trying to slip cheats, lobbyists and incompetents (Geithner) into the governing mix. He needs to get this growing mess under control and place a worthier set of people in open positions. And yes, he needs to get rid of Geithner.

Posted by: ButchDillon | February 3, 2009 8:40 PM | Report abuse

Daschle was on the take all right, but I suspect he's actually sincere in wanting to reform health. He took money from both taxpayers and the health industry, but the industry's money failed to buy his loyalty, I'm guessing.

I'm more disgusted by the Raytheon lobbyist than anything else. If there's one class of pond life I'd want Obama to steer clear of, it's the "missile defense" crowd. Yuck.

If there's one revolving door in Washington
that needs shutting more than any other, it's the Pentagon/Arms industry revolving door.

Almost all of Bush's defense appointees were arms industry executives. Obama should put a stop to that crap.
If he really had balls, he'd ban retiring generals and admirals from arms industry directorships.

But I know Obama's cojones aren't THAT big.

Posted by: kevrobb | February 3, 2009 10:07 PM | Report abuse

"Daschle was on the take all right, but I suspect he's actually sincere in wanting to reform health. He took money from both taxpayers and the health industry, but the industry's money failed to buy his loyalty, I'm guessing."

You've gotta be kidding. The chances of significant health care reform under a lobbyist for the industry are slight, to say the least. I can't believe Obama even nominated him. It's as cynical a move as any George Bush made.

Posted by: grazer | February 3, 2009 11:06 PM | Report abuse

I'm still very happy with the choice the country made in Obama. Screwing up on your taxes isn't the worst thing, however with Daschle there is the question of how he made the money in the first place. This is the old way of doing business. Would Daschle have been "good for us?" I doubt it, because anybody who's that beholden to the insurance industry can't possibly come out for a single payer health care plan, which is what we need. I'm equally troubled by the appointment for undersecretary of Defense, for the same reason. It's not a question of peccadilloes, it's a question of how they make their daily bread, the corruption in the very air they breathe.

Posted by: fzdybel | February 4, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

All I can say is as bumpy as it looks right now I'm still glad that retarded alcoholic and his socipathic Hannibal Lecter wannabee VP aren't in charge anymore.
We can fight about degrees of purity and all this crap but it's not relevant. Obama ended torture, is closing Gitmo, and is working to pull troops out of Iraq. He might eve be the one to get Bin Laden, the star of the previous administration's conspiracy theory about 9/11.
Now we get to see how sucky our congres critters are and who needs to be retired in due process and time. Reid, Pelosi, Feinstein, Nelson and the other Blue Dogs, and then all of the republicans have to go. Marching orders, get Moveon and Acorn and the rest of the gang to gether and GO!

Posted by: sparkplug1 | February 4, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

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