February 3, 2009

On the Take?

While we're at it, what about politicians like Tom Daschle, who now says he's "deeply embarrassed and disappointed" about his failure to pay more than $120,000 in taxes. Seems to me that being a senator should be a full-time job or, if not actually full-time, it should keep you busy enough to preclude your earning $5.2 million advising people in the industries the government is supposed to be regulating. [UPDATE: Daschle earned this money after standing down as a senator].

I believe Daschle is Obama's poorest pick yet, and this choice of nomination for the head of Health and Human Services seriously threatens to undermine Obama's credibility. Even ignoring the fact that the guy might (or might not) be a tax cheat ("What, you want me to join the cabinet? Damn, I'd better undo a few lies") Daschle owes the health services industry a lot, and he's unlikely to turn and bite the hand that's fed him once he joins the cabinet.

So think again, President Obama and the Senate Finance Committee. This is one nomination that shouldn't be confirmed. Let Senator Daschle retire on his nest-egg and let's see whether we can't actually give the Office of Government Ethics some teeth. Or maybe $5.2 million isn't enough ...


Adam Turoff said...

In all fairness to Sen Daschle, he lost his seat to John Thune in 2004. I haven't followed the specifics of his tax issues, but he has had plenty of time for the last four years to earn $5MM without interfering with his position as a former Senator.

His financial misdealings (if any) while in Congress should be subject to intense scrutiny, but it's fair to have a lower standard of scrutiny for his time as a "private citizen".

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure even a full-time job stops once you're fired.

I haven't seen anyone else claiming he was on the take when he was a Senator, everyone else seems to agree that the $5 million was made in just the last 4 years. Of course, that amplifies your point about how much he owes the health-care industry.

Steve said...

Mea culpa about his senatorial status, and many thanks for the information. But his indebtedness to the health industry still makes this look like a potentially unhealthy relationship. I'd like to see a rather greater degree of independence myself.

Doug Napoleone said...

To be honest the tax problems are the best thing to have happened sense his nomination. I never liked him for the position for all the obvious reasons, and this was one of the better ways for him to vacate both the cabinet position and the committee spot. Best in the 'ripping the bandaid off quickly' way. It's over, nothing more to discuss, he is out, next.

[In case people missed it he has stepped down, 'declined', and will not play apart in the administration]