Daschle steps aside amid tax controversy

Posted on February 3, 2009

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Just days after his massive tax delinquency came to public attention, Tom Daschle withdrew himself as nominee for Health and Human Services Secretary. The shocking withdrawal came only a few hours after another Obama Cabinet pick, Nancy Killefer, also withdrew as her own financial troubles were beginning to come to light. Her potential position? Chief Performance Officer.

President Obama took responsibility for the handling of the Daschle issue, remarking, “I screwed up.” He told NBC “I’m frustrated with myself” for unintentionally sending a message that there are “two sets of rules” for paying taxes, “one for prominent people and one for ordinary folks.” That’s a fine sentiment, but the problem is that he had three Cabinet nominees with tax issues, and he defended them up until they were either confirmed or kicked to the curb. Timothy Geithner, confirmed Treasury Secretary and head of the IRS, had tax issues that were shrugged off as “honest mistakes.”

This issue is really resonating with average folks. People are rightfully upset that enforcers will look the other way for high-profile tax defaulters when the regular guy or gal would get no such kid glove treatment. That it comes from the administration from a man who falsely claimed to sweep in a grand era of change and transparency to Washington makes the shortcomings that much more significant. If anything, it should be a signal that the next four years won’t really be the transcendental awakening they were billed to be – they’ll just be business as usual.

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Posted in: News, Politics