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02 February 2009

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trstone

It seems to me that all of America's leaders (financial/government) are incompetent-at best, or crooks-at the worst.

This is the best of America's (pardon to David Halbestram) the best and the brightest!

PS-I am a BO supporter!

DGH, Seattle

I have to agree, has it been so lang since hail to the chief?

Cynthia

I agree, Buzz Meeks. Alarm bells started going off in my head as soon as I heard that Obama appointed Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff. Some view this appointment as a relief in that Emanuel will be relieved from doing any more harm as a hawk on Capitol Hill. But to me, as long as Obama is a war president with the power to usurp Congress, Hawkman Emanuel may indeed do far more harm as the president's right-hand man in the White House.

optimax

If you make the laws, you can change the laws to oblige your uncontested desires. All four-year-old rulers know that, and that is change we can bereave in.

Halfnhalf

I heard his public apology in which he said he thought the use of the car and driver was a "gift". Since the IRS limits gifts (this year to $13,000), wasn't the gifter rather than the giftee responsible for reporting and paying the tax?

J

I see Emanuel as a foreign governmental 'gatekeeper' who makes sure that a steel constructed Israeli bubble is created around our U.S. prez to ensure that only 'Israeli approved' enter and leaves the U.S. presidential bubble, a bad thing for the U.S..

Nancy K

I don't particularly care for Dascle and it does seem he is in bed with the medical lobbyists, what a surprise a politician in bed with lobbyists. That said, I believe we need to give the president who he wants in his cabinet. He has only been on the job 2 weeks and already I read posters on this site who are bad mouthing Obama. Give me a break, while Bush was commander in thief our economy was decimated, how soon you forget. Give Obama a chance, he couldn't be any worse than our last president and that is a given.

lina

I always thought it foolish and shortsighted for Obama (or any candidate for federal office) to rail on about lobbyists.

Daschle's relationships with the healthcare industry coupled with his good relationships with his former Senate colleagues are exactly what made him the perfect candidate for this job. Obama promised healthcare reform. That will require cooperation from (1) Congress and (2) the health services industry.

People get nailed for tax violations every year. They pay the appropriate fine and get back to work. The IRS gets its money and the tax lawyer gets his.

I don't give a damn about Daschle. I'm very concerned about healthcare reform.

charlottemom

Do the rich and powerful pay their fair share in the US? Sorry but loads of recent evidence suggest NO - not just Geithner, Daschle, that Nancy woman who withdrew nomination, Dodd (advantageous mortgage arrangements ala Countrywide). There is so much hypocrisy and corruption and Obama is now being touched by it.

Many political and business leaders are freeloaders - taxes skirted, bonuses gifted. We taxpayers are being pickpocketed left and right. Heck, congress just voted themselves a raise at a time when Americans are being laid off, salaries frozen. I think that's as in-your-face as Daschle.

It is the exception when a leader plays by the rules.

Leona Helmsley said only the little people pay taxes...what twenty years ago?! It was true then and true now.

Byron Raum

It is a valid argument that our tax code needs to be simplified, but IMO that does not excuse Daschle. The complexity of the tax code just means that Daschle was able to hide his complicity. It just means that he's the sort of person who would take advantage of the complexity of the law to break it.

When his accountant filed for him, Daschle signed his 1040, which includes taking an oath. This is the text from the 1040: Under penalties of perjury, I declare that I have examined this return and accompanying schedules and statements, and to the best of my knowledge and belief, they are true, correct, and complete. Declaration of preparer (other than taxpayer) is based on all information of which preparer has any knowledge. Every taxpayer, including you, me and Daschle sign it.

With the Sarbes-Oxley law, we hold executives personally responsible for financial statements coming out of their companies. They can never disclaim responsibility because they "didn't know." They should have known, and are by law required to have known. The Sarbes-Oxley law cleared the Senate in 7/15/2002, when Daschle was still a Senator. He voted yea.

Should we hold him responsible for his own tax returns in the same way he wanted executives held responsible for their companies' tax returns? Do the same rules apply?

barrisj

Daschle pulls the plug this a.m.! Of course, the bulk of coverage focused upon his "tax issues", and the lobby business gets virtually little attention, except from non-MSM sources. It's a telling commentary upon DC culture that the "responsible media" and Congressional politicos bashed Daschle on IRS problems (he apparently didn't have any "undocumented immigrants" working as household help, an equally fatal mistake), rather than the more egregious aspects of his post-Senate employment. Despite Obama's protestations to the contrary, the "revolving door" is still in play, and those benefiting from that ethic will have no issues from former Hill colleagues when seeking government positions.

lina

the purists win:
Daschle withdraws nomination
19 mins ago

WASHINGTON – Tom Daschle has withdrawn his nomination to be Health and Human Services secretary.

That's according to a joint White House statement from President Barack Obama and his former nominee.

Obama said Tuesday he accepted the withdrawal "with sadness and regret."

Daschle has been battling for his nomination since it was disclosed he failed to pay more than $120,000 in taxes.

He said he's withdrawing because he's not a leader who has the full faith of Congress and will be a distraction.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Tom Daschle's former Democratic colleagues were rallying to his defense after he met behind closed doors with the Senate Finance Committee to discuss problems with back taxes and potential conflicts of interest, but lawmakers promised he will face more questions.

Daschle, the former Senate Democratic leader, is President Barack Obama's nominee to oversee the Health and Human Services Department.

Republican members of the committee avoided reporters after the committee meeting Monday, but an aide to Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said the senator still has a lot of questions he will explore at Daschle's confirmation hearing Feb. 10.

Those questions will focus on tax issues, such as the $128,203 in back taxes and $11,964 in interest that he paid last month, said the aide. Daschle will also be questioned about the potential conflicts of interests he would face because he accepted speaking fees from health care interests, said the aide, who asked not to be identified because the aide was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

Daschle also provided advice to health insurers and hospitals through his work at a law firm.

Daschle began the day apologizing for his failure to fully pay his taxes from 2005 through 2007. He capped it off that way as well after meeting with the committee behind closed doors.

"It was completely inadvertent, but that's no excuse," he said. "I apologize to President Obama, to my colleagues and to the American people."

Obama said he was "absolutely" sticking with his choice for health secretary.

The White House both underscored the magnitude of the problem and tried to downplay it in the space of seven words. "Nobody's perfect," said press secretary Robert Gibbs. "It was a serious mistake."

Nobody was predicting defeat for Daschle's nomination, but it was proving an unsavory pill to swallow for senators who only last week confirmed Timothy Geithner as treasury secretary despite his own tax-payment problems. It's an issue that strikes a nerve among lawmakers' constituents, who are struggling with their own serious money problems.

Daschle did get warm words of support from numerous Democratic senators. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., gave him an especially important endorsement, since the two men have had tussles in the past over Baucus' handling of GOP tax-cut proposals, Medicare changes and other issues.

"His tax mistakes are regrettable," Baucus said. "But his tax mistakes do not change his qualifications to lead on health care reform. They do not change my support for his nomination."

Some senators laid the blame for Daschle's tax woes on his employers rather than on Daschle. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said the friend that provided him with a chauffeur service for three years, Leo Hindery Jr., should have given Daschle a tax form that would make clear the service was to be treated as income.

In a letter released Monday, Daschle sought to explain how he overlooked taxes on income for consulting work and the use of the car service. He also deducted more in charitable contributions than he should have.

Gibbs noted Daschle's long tenure as a senator from South Dakota and said it would be up to the Senate to weigh a "serious but corrected mistake against that three-decade career in public service."

"We still think he's the best person to do health care reform and shepherd a very complicated process through Congress to achieve savings and cut costs for the American people," Gibbs said. The White House also had suggested Geithner was indispensable for the national economic revival in arguing for his confirmation despite tax problems.

Melanie Sloan, the executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, noted the Geithner nomination in saying she suspected tax problems would not prevent Daschle from becoming the next health secretary.

"If the guy who is overseeing the IRS can get away with a tax problem, how are you going to hold up the health and human services secretary over taxes?" she asked.

Associated Press, 2/3/09

J

Colonel, All,

Daschle just announced he's withdrawing from the Obama Cabinet bid.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28994296/

batondor

All,

Well, Daschle has withdrawn. I must admit that I was not as harsh in my interpretation of this situation as many here have been because I do not subscribe to the notion that anyone in government is a crook... but I do agree with all of you that it's hard to fathom a mixture of mistakes in such a short time... and I certainly agree with my spouse who was more troubled by the combination of the immediate distraction and the lobbying mindset that Daschle embraced as soon as he left the Senate (and that his spouse apparently was deeply involved in for years, as well...).

Personally, I have a bigger, more generic problem: it's the notion of the Indispensable Person. I'd be curious to hear what Pat Lang or others have to say about the origination and execution of policy, both foreign or domestic: are the "special" (as in "unique") individuals who get things done that would not otherwise pass muster... or does it take good ideas and the right circumstances to cultivate success in difficult situations and the "best" leaders are those that can see those conditions as they become apparent?

Cieran

Nancy K:

Give Obama a chance, he couldn't be any worse than our last president and that is a given.

I agree, but your words could just as easily be read as "damning with faint praise".

I'd prefer to see our political leaders earning a lot more than faint praise. As citizens of this great nation, is that really too much for us to expect?

Gozer

http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2009/02/03/1778967.aspx

Daschle withdraws from consideration.

mike

Your blog may have more influence than you realize Colonel.

Now - let's clean house by getting Geithner and Powers to resign.

arbogast

Karl Denninger at The Market Ticker is right about this as he is about so many other things.

Why should the American Taxpayer, who is being asked to bail out Robert Rubin, Hank Paulson, Jimmy Cayne, Richard Fuld, etc. etc. etc. etc. pay his taxes when our nation's leaders don't pay theirs?

http://market-ticker.denninger.net/archives/768-Obama-Enough-Of-This-Crap.html

Mark Logan

I'm glad he withdrew. It was causing a problem and
he is simply not indispensable
for healthcare reform.

I'm of the opinion that his "error" was actually somewhat more forgivable
than Geitners. He should
have gotten that 1099 and
he shouldn't have had to ask
for it. There is another issue that I suspect needed
to be firewalled: That was
"the 1099 from hell". One
ridiculously expensive limo. That rock, and whatever's under it, I
think is Tom's responibility to see turned over as far from the Obama administration as possible.

Nancy K

Cieran, I didn't actually mean it as faint praise, as I feel very positive about President Obama. I just feel that our last administration was so corrupt that Obama is now being painted with the same brush. I feel he should be given a chance. He has only been in office a few weeks. And yes I feel we should expect more from our leaders, however politicians on both sides of the aisle have been so very dissapointing that it is difficult to imagaine what more is.

Bobo

Congratulations to all Daschle has dropped out and Obama has recognized his political mistake.

Now how about some efforts to take the non-stimulus junk out of the stimulus bill so we all can be proud of this bill that is suppose to help us. I know Ms. Pelosi's condom project has come out already but there is plenty more in there like it.

Leave the pet projects to the normal budgetary process so we can get this country moving again..

DGH, Seattle

Col. Lang,
The Chief has asserted himself again today and striding into the conversation has taken charge.
Standing (or sitting) before those 'who make opinion' he gave forth as no POTUS in my memory has ever done and once again took charge of the American conversation.
I have resumed my briefly abandoned position of "Hail to the Chief!"

Cieran

Nancy K:

Cieran, I didn't actually mean it as faint praise, as I feel very positive about President Obama.

Sorry for any confusion -- I feel the same way as you do here.

I was merely trying to point out that a quality bar set at "better than George W" isn't exactly what we need in this day and age. I'd almost suggest the notion that we deserve "the best and the brightest", but that metric has already been used (or perhaps misused?)

Arun

Well, he withdrew, and Obama admitted he screwed up. I'm sure in the 2012 debates, if Obama runs for relection, he'll have a whole list of mistakes to recite.

Geithner's tax mistake is, to me, understandable; Daschle's is not.

In any case, instead of constant drumbeat of the tax cut battle, why not instead focus on simplifying the tax code (even if we end up paying about the same)?

Doug Farris

Actually why should any of us pay the tyrants any of our money?

Time for another tea party!

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