The Beginning Of The End Of Tom Daschle

The Beginning Of The End Of Tom Daschle


It starts with an editorial in today’s New York Times:

When President Obama nominated former Senator Tom Daschle to be his secretary of health and human services, it seemed to be a good choice. Mr. Daschle, as the co-author of a book on health care reform, knew a lot about one of the president’s signature issues. As a former Senate majority leader, he also knew a lot about guiding controversial bills through Congress, where he remains liked and respected by former colleagues.

Unfortunately, new facts have come to light — involving his failure to pay substantial taxes that were owed and his sizable income from health-related companies while he worked in the private sector — that call into question his suitability for the job. We believe that Mr. Daschle ought to step aside and let the president choose a less-blemished successor.


Mr. Daschle is one oversight case too many. 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 tax problems for Obama’s nominees don’t end with Tom Daschle either:

WASHINGTON (AP) – Nancy Killefer, who failed for a year and a half to pay employment taxes on household help, has withdrawn her candidacy to be the first chief performance officer for the federal government, the White House said Tuesday.

Killefer was the second major Obama administration nominee to withdraw and the third to have tax problems complicate their nomination after President Barack Obama announced their selection.

The White House said Obama had accepted Killefer’s decision and that the 55-year-old executive with consulting giant McKinsey & Co., would explain her reasons for pulling out later Tuesday.

When her selection was announced by Obama on Jan. 7, The Associated Press disclosed that in 2005 the District of Columbia government had filed a $946.69 tax lien on her home for failure to pay unemployment compensation tax on household help.

One can make an intellectual case that Killefer’s oversight was minuscule and shouldn’t have prevented her from taking her position, but this is politics.

Usually, you only get one free pass and, when it came to nominees with tax problems Obama got that free pass with Timothy Geithner.

That’s why Killefer withdrew and why, I suspect, Daschle won’t be far behind.

Cross-posted at Below The Beltway

  • bubbles

    It’s probably good that these mistakes are being made early on in the Obama administration, rather than later. I guarantee you the focus on personal financial honesty by his administration is going to be damn intense in the future.

  • shane

    With all the discussion about the rich needing to pay their fair share, what is going on with these nominations? This is now 3 nominees that failed to pay enough taxes for an administration that wants to raise taxes on the very segment these people represent. I’m not sure they all are in that upper tax bracket, but given their resumes, it is likely a safe assumption. Does anyone else see the irony that the administration that wants to raise taxes for the richest Americans, is finding the richest Americans who aren’t paying their taxes?

  • Ryan

    I wish I could agree with bubbles on this point, but as someone who buys into the notion of personal responsibility and accountability, it concerns me that Obama’s people either a) were unable to find the tax problems or b) withheld that information for the purpose of making the nomination seem secure.

    It’s a regression that began with Richardson, moved to Geithner, and is now claiming Daschle. I hope it doesn’t go much further.

  • Nick Benjamin

    I’m surprised anybody thinks this derails Daschle’s nomination. The nomination can only be derailed two ways. First the Senate could vote him down. That won’t happen — most Senators already know this guy. They respect him. They’ve already said they’ll vote to confirm.

    Second Obama could withdraw the nomination. That won’t happen. Obama’s priority right now is getting his agenda through Congress. That’s much easier if you have help from a former Senate Majority Leader. Especially since the most credible threat to Obama’s plans is a Senate filibuster.

    Add in the fact Obama owes Daschle, and everybodys know it. Withdrawing the Daschle nomination makes Obama look untrustworthy…

  • kranky kritter

    I’m strongly convinced that no one gives a happy sh!+ about this stuff except the media and the party not holding the oval office.

    This happens during every election cycle while confirmations go on. Extra scrutiny turns up stuff of varying objectionability, and the party not holding the oval office always makes the predictable “this goes to show that the admin as a whole, lacks character or follow-through or competence yadayadadyada.”

    Some nominees always bail during this because they don’t want the scrutiny or are afraid what’s been revealed will take them or the admin down. The strong and the ambitious hang on. And then it pretty much blows over.

    Basically, the nomination process works, and I ignore it. Wake me up when we have a cabinet.