OK, I give up. Former Senate Democratic Leader and top Obama political guru Tom Daschle is still slated to become Secretary of Health and Human Services and White House "health czar," despite the discovery that he evaded paying $128,000 in income taxes on unreported income of $255,000.
Like his soon-to-be Cabinet colleague, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Daschle is apparently regarded as indispensable to the work of the nation's government. An Administration source immediately dubbed the tax cheating a "stupid mistake," and Majority Leader Harry Reid gave him a renewed vote of confidence.
Daschle failed to declare as income the free use of a Cadillac and driver for several years, the sort of in-kind perk that everyone who has served in government knows full well must be reported to the IRS. Possibly even worse, he failed to declare $83,333 of consulting income for 2007 and overstated his deductions for charitable contributions by nearly $15,000. This cheating Uncle Sam comes from a man who made millions of dollars during the period in question.
Daschle is supposed to get points for bringing his tax delinquency up himself during the transition, but in all honesty, all that proves is that he knew he had cheated.
Daschle was an outstanding Senator and is by all accounts handily qualified for his new job. But his and Geithner's obviously willful efforts to evade taxes really ought to disqualify them from holding high appointive office. No one is indispensable. It's a matter of basic personal ethics.
What do you think? Post a comment.
UPDATE - 2/1/09 - Daschle knew he had a tax problem last June, but didn't tell the Obama transition team until after his nomination was announced. Why the long wait? Supposedly, he thought his accountant was handling it. Why do I think I would have checked with my accountant? No...wait...I would have paid the taxes in the first place!