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Ear to the Ground

Daschle Drops Out

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Posted on Feb 3, 2009
Daschle
latimes.com

Memo to anyone still angling for a top position in the Obama administration: Pay your taxes. Tom Daschle is the latest political player to find himself out of the running—in his case, to head the Department of Health and Human Services—after tax issues came to light.

Obama had tapped Daschle to lead the charge on health care reform. The former Senate majority leader said Tuesday that that effort would require a leader who did not carry any “distraction.” It might also require a leader who didn’t make millions advising (read: lobbying for) the health industry.

Another nominee, Nancy Killefer, also had to withdraw, reportedly because of tax issues. Timothy Geithner made it through the nomination process despite his own disinclination to pay his taxes.

Where is the IRS in all this? Clearly there is an epidemic of well-off people willfully ripping off Uncle Sam. We wouldn’t wish an audit on anybody, but these people were really asking for it.

All this has managed to irritate Campbell Brown, who vents about it here.


Los Angeles Times:

The move came after leading newspapers questioned his ability to serve after the tax situation was revealed. It also came hours after Nancy Killefer, picked by President Obama to be the federal government’s first chief performance officer, withdrew her nomination after reports that she had failed to pay employment taxes for household help.

Killefer was the third appointee by President Obama to have tax problems. Timothy Geithner was confirmed as Treasury secretary despite owing more than $34,000 in taxes that he paid.

“Now we must move forward,” Obama said in a written statement accepting Daschle’s request to be taken out of consideration. On Monday, Obama said he “absolutely” stood by Daschle, who apologized to the Senate Finance Committee for his tax situation.

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Blackspeare's avatar

By Blackspeare, February 4, 2009 at 9:35 am Link to this comment

Poor Tom Daschle it is obvious he never expected to be in the public arena otherwise he would have been more careful with his taxes.  There are many ways to avoid paying taxes some more egregious than others and some are even legal!  My accountant has told me many times that the worst possible tax avoidance is to hide income.  You can play around with deductions, credits, etc all you like,but hiding income is a no no.  Geithner failed to deduct SS taxes on his total reported salary—-the IRS is actually responsible for they should have verified this.  As long as you report your full income the IRS is responsible for verifying all deductions and credits an impossible job so its become a game of how much you can get away with!  Even Daschle’s failure to claim the car and driver as income is not particularly egregious because it was not a cash payment.  However, his substantial consulting fee, which he did not report is and that is why he’s out!

The question to be asked is how many other people in high government positions—-past or present are tax avoiders too!!!

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By diamond, February 4, 2009 at 2:59 am Link to this comment

When you pay taxes you buy civilization. You can’t have a decent health care system or any kind of system that exists for the benefit of the majority of the people if you don’t pay taxes. But for the rich in every country paying taxes is seen as optional. If you work in a coffee shop being paid a pittance you’ll find it hard to avoid paying but they don’t. It’s simply inexcusable to be so harsh on the average citizen and let the wealthiest avoid paying their taxes. All of these people should know better. Aren’t they supposed to be amongst the brightest people in the country? Surely paying their taxes should be easy for them to master. They should set an example-but not this example.

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By Henry09, February 3, 2009 at 5:33 pm Link to this comment

We should just get rid of the income tax anyway. Same can be said for “employment taxes”.

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By mill, February 3, 2009 at 5:26 pm Link to this comment

Having a politician write the tax code then not pay taxes is like having a business leader preach about incentives based on performance then turn around and take a bonus regardess of result

neither seems particularly moral, especially for those who hold leadership and role model responsibilities

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By dihey, February 3, 2009 at 4:31 pm Link to this comment

Cyrena
I second both of your choices!

G. Anderson
I recently discovered that the IRS was set up by President Lincoln to pay for the civil war. What an inauspicious beginning!

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By thomas, February 3, 2009 at 4:23 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I think that anyone who is elected to Congress should have to go through this same scrutiny with their taxes. OH, wait, that wouldn’t eliminate them from serving. I mean Ted Stevens, a convicted felon, was nearly elected by the voters in Alaska.

By the way this ‘fake’ outrage smells like Teen Spirit…a flashback to the old days when we were supposed to be outraged about Clinton’s little indiscretion.

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By cyrena, February 3, 2009 at 4:12 pm Link to this comment

Since I never thought Daschle was a good choice anyway, this could be a blessing in disguise for Obama’s admin, depending on who he taps as a replacement. Either Howard Dean or Dennis Kucinich seem like great choices to me. Howard Dean would probably be best. He’s an MD and he has experience in those all of the appropriate bureaucracies.

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By Big B, February 3, 2009 at 3:23 pm Link to this comment

Does anyone else think that Daschle’s head would look good on the end of stick? Or maybe they should just stuff it somewhere else.

Barry is apparently not as smart as we think he is, or far more arrogent.

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G.Anderson's avatar

By G.Anderson, February 3, 2009 at 3:02 pm Link to this comment

Well who dosent’ have tax problems?

The tax laws in this country need reform, and maybe just a flat tax to rid us of the IRS forever.

To put it mildly the tax laws are a gordian know, unfathomable to most Americans.

It seems that if someone does a little digging into the lives of the privledged they will find something like this.

Even with Accountants and CPA’s, to help them avoid taxes, what’s the excuse?

But if it happens to someone who works hard for a living, then there are few alternatives.

How does our ruling elite expect the average citizen to comply, when they don’t?

I wonder what will happen on April 15 when millons of American’s just don’t have the money to file?

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