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Tilting at Windmills

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January 31, 2009

DASCHLE'S TAX TROUBLES.... Tim Geithner's tax "issues" were relatively minor, and easy to overlook. Tom Daschle's are more problematic.

ABC News has learned that the nomination of former Senator Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., to be President Obama's secretary of health and human services has hit a traffic snarl on its way through the Senate Finance Committee.

The controversy deals with a car and driver lent to Daschle by a wealthy Democratic friend -- a chauffeur service the former senator used for years without declaring it on his taxes.

It remains an open question as to whether this is a "speed bump," as a Democratic Senate ally of Daschle put it, or something more damaging.

During the vetting process, Daschle paid back taxes in excess of $100,000, including interest and penalties, after his accountant discovered some errors. What kind of errors? "[U]nreported consulting fees, questionable charitable contributions, and a car and driver provided by a private equity firm run by entrepreneur and longtime Democratic Party donor Leo J. Hindery Jr."


Daschle spokeswoman Jenny Backus told reporters that Daschle made no effort to hide the error. The former Senate Majority Leader "expressed his regret, he knew he made a mistake and he was fully responsible for it. He fixed it to the nth degree by filing all these amended returns. He is embarrassed. He fixed it and answered all these questions about it." She added, "It is a stupid mistake."

As for what happens next, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the administration is "confident the committee is going to schedule a hearing for him very soon and he will be confirmed." Likewise, Harry Reid's office is similarly "confident" about Daschle's eventual confirmation. Senate Republicans are, however, predicting Daschle's withdrawal.

I'm of two minds on this. On the one hand, Daschle's tax mistakes were jaw-droppingly foolish. On the other hand, he has an exceptional career, he's admitted wrongdoing, he's corrected his error, and he's probably the single most important person in government right now when it comes to a historic overhaul of the American healthcare system.

We'll see what happens.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (43)

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This is just the beginning. We are witnessing a return to the corruption, cynicism, and outrageous behavior of the Clinton years.

Posted by: Al on January 31, 2009 at 8:17 AM | PERMALINK

and he's probably the single most important person in government right now when it comes to a historic overhaul of the American healthcare system.

And the GOP knows it. They will not back off on this one.

Posted by: shortstop on January 31, 2009 at 8:18 AM | PERMALINK

The vetting by the Obama team has been as atrocious as the crowd management at the Inauguration. Richardson, Geithner, and now Daschle... there's plenty of other qualified people for these spots with clean records, and it's amazing that Obama's brain trust would select guys who are inevitably going to get dragged down into the muck during confirmation. I also think Holder was a poor choice, given the tar of the Rich pardon sticking to him. You can't tell me that there aren't a good number of highly qualified men and women who are adamantly opposed to torture and the other abuses of power by the Bushies that Obama could have selected for AG. Why give the GOP any more excuse to oppose the nominations?

It's bad enough that the GOP and its lapdog allies in the media are always going to distort and lie shamelessly about Obama's legislative initiatives, so why would you provide these nuts with the perfect ammunition — "Congressional Dems confirm Obama's tax-cheating choices for Cabinet!!" — to attack Obama's message of change and reform?

It's stupid, sloppy, and self-destructive practical politics.

Posted by: bluestatedon on January 31, 2009 at 8:23 AM | PERMALINK

During the vetting process, Daschle paid back taxes in excess of $100,000, including interest and penalties, after his accountant discovered some errors.

Am I reading this right? Daschle's accountant found these errors during the vetting process? This isn't like Geithner, where the IRS challenged something. This is the taxpayer saying, "Oops, I forgot to declare some gifts, etc."

Not to minimize this, but the Senate rules allowed Senators to declare private jet rides as though they had the value of first class commercial tickets. Do most people declare these rides on their taxes as gifts? And if so, does the IRS let them cost them at commercial ticket prices? What's the meaningful difference between this analogy and the chauffer? I suspect there are a lot of wealthy people, especially celebrities, who get gifts like this and don't declare them. And the IRS turns a blind eye.

I'm not saying it's right. But it seems like a unique standard - one that few of Bush's appointees would have wanted used. In fact, I doubt any of the Senators who will vote on the confirmation would want people looking at their lives for "undeclared gifts".

Posted by: Danp on January 31, 2009 at 8:29 AM | PERMALINK

Referring to the alleged "corruption, cynicism, and outrageous behavior of the Clinton years" after 8 years of George W. Bush is like comparing someone driving 30 in a 25-mph zone to John Wayne Gacy.

Posted by: bluestatedon on January 31, 2009 at 8:35 AM | PERMALINK

Plus a change, plus cest la mme chose.

Mind you, I'm a leftie. But this is disgusting. It gives creeps like Eric Cantor perfect throwaway lines: "It's easier for the other side to advocate for higher taxes because you know what?" Cantor asked a House GOP crowd.
"They don't pay 'em!" the Reps shouted back.

And why are we just finding out about this now? Maybe Daschle can overlook a lackey & hackney, but did Obama really think Republicans in the Senate & the press wouldn't notice? Daschle owed more in back taxes and penalties than Not-Joe the Non-Plumber earned in three years.

I'm not on the fence on this. (a) Daschle is out (and no confirmation-free staff job, please); & (b) Obama owes me an apology.

The Constant Weader at www.RealityChex.com

Posted by: Marie Burns on January 31, 2009 at 8:36 AM | PERMALINK

just to make it clear, the use of the car and driver is not being treated as a gift, but as taxable compensation. gifts are not taxable to the recipient, rather to the donor. the use of a car and driver are considered compensation. how many americans know how many of their employee benefits are actually taxable? and how many employers fail to treat them that way? (think meals paid by the employer when the employee is not away overnight.....)

of greater concern to me is the failure to report consulting fees. that's a no brainer. and really stupid.

as good as he might be, i think it's time to move on to a different candidate.

Posted by: just bill on January 31, 2009 at 8:36 AM | PERMALINK

Fuck him. He can't possibly be the best person for this job if he is that god damn stupid. It is precisely because the job is so important that we don't need someone who is dumb enough to pull a stunt like this in this position. There should be zero tolerance for this kind of crap from these people. On both sides of the aisle.

Posted by: SW on January 31, 2009 at 8:44 AM | PERMALINK

I like Daschele, but he should drop out. The rules for the common Joe should apply to him, too.

Posted by: pol on January 31, 2009 at 8:46 AM | PERMALINK

Howard Dean for HHS, anyone?

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on January 31, 2009 at 8:47 AM | PERMALINK

Still, remember that Daschele was a member of the club. He's a former Senator. And they are notoriously less harsh on former Senators when they are nominated for a Cabinet post.

Posted by: Chris on January 31, 2009 at 8:49 AM | PERMALINK

I like Daschle, and thought he was a good pick. But, this is a tough sell at a time when Obama is asking for shared scarifice for the greater good - especially coming on the heels of Geithner.

As just bill notes above, the failure to disclose consulting fees is hard to overlook. Limo rides and a driver, or 'questionable charitable contributions'? Maybe. But a consulting fee is a direct compensation. I'd need to know how many of these errors were of unreported direct compensation before passing judgement, but it doesn't look too good right now.

Posted by: JoeW on January 31, 2009 at 8:53 AM | PERMALINK

It get awfully stale to hear yet another politician say "I'm a virtuous person so anything bad I do doesn't count". Enough is enough. And perhaps we could reduce the budget deficit by auditing the income tax returns of all Congressmen and lobbyists. Similarly we should demand audits of the Wall Street executives getting government bailouts. Out of the $18 billion bonus money paid this year perhaps we could find a billion or two in "honest" mistakes.

Posted by: rfb99 on January 31, 2009 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

Obama should have picked squeaky clean Howard Dean for HHS!

Posted by: ellie on January 31, 2009 at 9:00 AM | PERMALINK

The key sentence in the Post story, cited above, is misleading. Yes, there were "unreported consulting fees, questionable charitable deductions, and a car and driver ..." And the impact of those totaled $128,000. But almost all of that was the driving service: the article says that his employer made an error that left $83,000 of compensation off of his W2 in 2007, and he made $15,000 in charitable donations over 3 years w/ insufficent documentation (about 5% of his donations over that period). These seem pretty understandable to me, and light years away from disqualifying. And they can't account for more than a quarter of the $128K total.

The car & driver thing was stupid & looks bad. He shouldn't have taken the gift, should have thought to declare it at the time, somebody should've raised it earlier in the vetting, etc. He deserves to be criticized for it. But it's not exactly racketeering or tax fraud. It was a mistake, plain & simple, and it doesn't help anything to abet the GOP & the media in building it up to be more than that.

It's especially unfair & unhelpful to make this a story about the transition team dropping the ball. It was Daschle's responsibility to have worked all of this out; the transition team can't be blamed for failing to discover something that he DIDN'T do.

Posted by: TW on January 31, 2009 at 9:06 AM | PERMALINK

just bill - thanks for the clarification.

WaPo reports that the $83,000 in consulting fees was the result of a clerical error by the equity firm. I suppose if you rely on W2's and 1099's to calculate your taxes, instead of actually adding up the checks, that may be somewhat of an excuse. The car and chauffer were valued at $255,000, by the way, and was calculated based on 20% use. Must have been some ride.

Posted by: Danp on January 31, 2009 at 9:10 AM | PERMALINK

Daschle should withdraw. He was paid fees for consulting and he didn't declare them. While few if any Americans completely understand the tax code almost all Americans understand that if someone pays you for a service, that pay is taxable income.
The news of Daschle's and Geithner's "mistakes" make me wonder how many others have left government and made similar "mistakes". It's repugnant to me that some who were a part of a government that insists that we pay our taxes to the penny find it acceptable to play fast and loose with their own tax payments. You don't need to be a conspiracy theorist to suspect that they have become a class of Mandarins who believe that they are exempt from the laws to which they subject the rest of us.

Posted by: Reverend Dennis on January 31, 2009 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

rfb99 And perhaps we could reduce the budget deficit by auditing the income tax returns of all Congressmen and lobbyists.

I think doing random audits of 5% of the Senators (and other senior government types) a year would be perfectly reasonable anti-corruption process. Pick the names from a hat in a lottery style public event.

Chance of this happening? None.

Posted by: Wapiti on January 31, 2009 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

Everyone under reports income on their taxes, period. With IRS auditing reduced to non-existent, (thanks to our friends in the former administration) especially on non-wage income, the temptation to make "mistakes" is too great. Now, in some ways I'm glad this is coming out as it forces even the good, well let's just better, guys to play by the rules. Does this disqualify Daschle? Let's get more information. We need the the most effective people and let's not be spun by media/republican talking points. They don't have our interest at heart.

The goal is single payer and let the chips fall where they may.

Posted by: dee on January 31, 2009 at 9:31 AM | PERMALINK

Someone gave him a car and driver out of the goodness of their heart and he accepted it without even bothering to tell his accountant about the "gift"? What happens to healthcare reform after Big Pharma agrees to let him stay free in their palatial Northern Virgina guest home? Pass, Daschle needs to stay retired.

Posted by: Shalimar on January 31, 2009 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

Tom is just another Washingtonian who views politics as a gateway to wealth. Uncle Sam meet Banana Republic. But, as with the Geithner deal (not a minor matter as Steve continuously characterizes it), the dems and the repubs will probably discount past intentional omissions as "mistakes". To do otherwise would only point to their own hypocrisy and stunted ethics.

Posted by: lou on January 31, 2009 at 9:53 AM | PERMALINK

The new masters are the same as the old masters. Just as susceptible to money, sex, power, corruption, etc.

Too bad, but completely unsurprising.

Posted by: red state mike on January 31, 2009 at 10:10 AM | PERMALINK

So let me see if I understand:

1) Daschle made about $5 million over a three year period working for a law firm and a private equity firm. The equity firm underreported his income by $83,000 in 2007 (out of about $1 million they paid him that year) on his W2.

2) Daschle and his wife made charitable donations totaling $267,000 over the three year period. Of those the transition team decided about $15,000 weren't adequately documented so even though they were probably legitimate charitable donations, Daschle played it safe and amended his returns to pay an extra $5,693 in taxes on this issue.

3) The owner of the equity firm, a long time friend, also gave him the use of a car and driver which Dachle initially thought of as a private gift. He discussed it with his accountant last June and decided it should be counted as income, but until he was appointed to the cabinet post, his accountant thought that filing the changes with this years return would be soon enough.

Of these, 1) and 2) are non-issues. I doubt any of his critics would go through all of their pay stubs to confirm the accuracy of their W2. And I expect the IRS would consider being able to document 95% of your charitable deductions a pretty good record, though it wouldn't keep them from demanding back taxes on the undocumented donations.

Number 3) is the only one that isn't clearly excusable. The main question I would have is how much did Daschle think the limo service was worth? The question of gift vs. compensation seems like one that could easily lead to confusion. But with with it being valued at over $80,000 a year, it seems that even if he didn't know it was worth that much, he should have been aware it was worth enough to be reportable as either income to Daschle or subject to the Gift Tax for Hindery. Daschle did identify it as a problem before he was nominated for a cabinet post, but probably should have done so even earlier.

Posted by: tanstaafl on January 31, 2009 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

Tom Daschle, you're an IDIOT. Obama should drop you like a hot potato. You could have gotten away with this foolishness 20 years ago, but not anymore. You'd do damage to the cause of health-care reform if you stayed on. Us Democrats leave ourselves open to charges of hypocrisy if we don't insist that Daschle leave Washington for good.

Posted by: JohnnyD on January 31, 2009 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

I'm biased in this because I fail to see how a milquetoast like Daschle is going to hold up under the pressure of trying to get universal health care passed; I don't want him at HHS. I'd guess there a many, many others who share my feeling about him. There was little fallout when Richardson quickly withdrew as Commerce nominee under similar complications. Obama would be wise to accept Daschle's quick withdrawal from the nomination now and move on to someone better qualified for the job anyway.

Posted by: NealB on January 31, 2009 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

The republicans are obviously worried about Daschle being very effective at moving a health care bill through congress.

Posted by: James G on January 31, 2009 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

Why not drop the Daschle nomination ?

Nominate Howard Dean as HHS Secretary

This kills two birds with one stone

Frankly, the Geithner tax situation was a little uncomfortable
It's hard to believe that he 'overlooked' his taxes
Make a clean start and dump Daschle
Then, bring in Howard Dean

Posted by: MSierra, SF on January 31, 2009 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

Geithner shouldn't have gotten the post anyway, both for his tax troubles (looks bad given his post) and what progressives at e.g. Alternet say that he doesn't care enough about the little people etc. Nor should Daschle if this is true - we chided Republicans for corruption, now we should live up to the rhetoric.

Posted by: Neil B ♪ ♫ on January 31, 2009 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

Btw, for those using Daschle and Richardson (and Geitner) to suggest that the Obama transition team is being sloppy, I would say that the discovery of Daschle's and Geithner's tax issues are a sign of how thoroughly they are vetting people before the confirmation hearings.

As for Richardson, the federal probe appears to be part of an ongoing investigation into pay-to-play allegations against CDR involving municipal, county and state governments across the country and the New Mexico portion of that investigation appears to be very preliminary. I can't find any mention of it in the press until 2 weeks after Richardson was tapped for the cabinet post.

It was certainly appropriate for Richardson to withdraw, but it is far to early to suggest that he or even any of his associates are guilty of anything in that case.

Finally, Republican corruption does not excuse Democratic corruption, but that is certainly a comparison the Republican's would be wise to avoid. The record of the Bush administration and of the Republican party over the last 10-15 years is horrible and it's going to get even worse now that his Bush political appointees in the Justice Department aren't around to delay and derail the investigations.

Posted by: tanstaafl on January 31, 2009 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

I love Howard Dean, think we owe him our never-ending gratitude and was sorry to see him leave the chairmanship of the DNC. But we're trying to pass healthcare reform here.

The point of picking Daschle to head HHS was not just to have someone who knows healthcare, but even more importantly to get an old Congressional leadership hand, someone experienced in moving legislation. If Daschle goes, he needs to be replaced with someone else with major Congressional experience.

Posted by: shortstop on January 31, 2009 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

i hate to sound like i am making excuses for insiders, but everyone whose argument boils down to "there must be hundreds of competent people who are squeaky clean - pick one of them!" is missing a huge, huge point.

this isn't the granting of a scholarship or an award - cross the stage, take a bow and be gone. Barack Obama is undertaking an enormous - and enormously complicated and enormously stressful - job. He needs to build a team of people, not machines. He is human, they are human, and intangibles matter - how the members work together, the level of personal trust and communication Obama has with each of them; for certain high-priority initiatives, a sense of shared thinking, a believe that the person has the right background to hit the ground running.

Potential candidates for these slots, no matter how competent, are not just interchangable parts. Daschle is there in large part because he has been with Obama literally this entire journey. Holder is there because he and Obama have a ton of interpersonal and background things in common and hit it off immediately and powerfully on an interpersonal level. It is just not realistic - indeed, it smacks of viewing Obama as something not-entirely-human - to suggest that these things shouldn't matter, or that they don't impact how Team Obama functions. Really, Obama is entitled to have some friends on his inner circle, not just strangers with great resumes and clean vetting.

(and before anyone goes there, if one can't grasp the subtleties between what I describe above and Bush-like cronyism, there is really no intelligent discussion we can have).

Posted by: zeitgeist on January 31, 2009 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

"The controversy deals with a car and driver lent to Daschle by a wealthy Democratic friend -- a chauffeur service the former senator USED FOR YEARS without declaring it on his taxes."

Not sure there is a need to be of two minds on this. People in power, politicians or otherwise, will always be exposed to temptations in form of gifts offered to them.

Unfortunately, that fact seems to be counterbalanced to a vanishingly small degree by any sensibility on the part of the recipients that this always gets them rather close to being bribed. In order to avoid any appearance of that, they have to be extra careful with everything they accept.

Being a politician and accepting a chauffeur service for years without declaring it, on taxes or otherwise, should, if one wants to take an anti-corruption stance, be enough of a disqualifier.

Seriously, should it really be Ok for Daschle to have to pay $100,000 in back taxes in order to clean up his act?

Posted by: SRW1 on January 31, 2009 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

SRW1, you and others seem to be misunderstanding the circumstances. All of these tax issues are arising from the last 3 years, after Daschle retired from the Senate.

During this time, he worked as a lawyer for a major firm, was 1 of 3 people running the board for an equity firm and earned fees for public speaking appearances.

It was the equity firm he was working for that provided the car. Daschle used the car in 2006, 2007 and 2008 and didn't consider that it might be taxable as income until last June. He discussed it with his accountant then. His accountant was going to file ammended returns for 2006 and 2007 when he filed the 2008 return this year, and finished it earlier this month as part of preparing for the confirmation hearings.

The equity firm also failed to include his payment for May 2007 in his 1099 for that year. This seemed like a particularly innocent mistake to me until I read that his salary was $1 million even. If he checked his tax return in any detail at all, seeing $916,666 instead of $1,000,000 for that employer should have been rather obvious. But if his accountant prepared the return and Daschle only reviewed Form 1040, it would be easier to overlook.

Posted by: tanstaafl on January 31, 2009 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

What would Steve say if a Republican had done this?

We all know the answer.

It's interesting that the standards are so much lower for Democrats.

Posted by: a on January 31, 2009 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

Reading the details, there doesn't seem to be anything really "questionable" about the charitable deductions, at least in the sense that it implies something nefarious.

Charitable contributions of $250 or more have to be acknowledged, in writing, by the charity, and some charities are pretty lax about the requirements. In addition, if you receive something of more than "nominal" value, you have to subtract it from your donation. So if you went to the Charity Ball, you have to deduct whatever one would pay to attend. This is also frequently not reported to donors.

Car and driver? Yeah, that's something of value, too. How many of you declare income when a friend drives you to the airport?

Posted by: Cal Gal on January 31, 2009 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

1. I have worked full-time as a private practice tax attorney for 33 years, having hand-prepared thousands of complex tax returns (personal income, corporate income, partnership, estate, gift, excise, property, intangibles, and every other kind) at the federal, state and local levels, and handled hundreds of tax audits by the IRS and by various states and municipalities.

2. It is almost impossible to overstate the complexity of the Internal Revenue Code, and the labyrinth-type traps and detours that the Code creates. Over the years, survey after survey of IRS personnel showed that, when they are questioned on how to handle the tax consequences of a particular transaction, correct answers were given less than 20% of the time!

3. I have always been appalled at the poor understanding by virtually all non-tax professionals of such "simple" tax concepts as "gross income" and "dependent." Don't get me started on "original issue discount" and "in-kind distributions" and "previously taxed income account." This lack of understanding is universal; Senators, plumbers, surgeons, army private - all are over-matched in trying to do their own tax returns.

4. With this background, I am not at all surprised at the Daschle kerfluffle; it's a lot of noise that has NOTHING to do with Daschle's character, intelligence, or competence. To state or imply otherwise is being ignorant, foolish, or dishonest. I will guarantee that the IRS will not attempt to levy a civil fraud penalty or even a simple negligence penalty against Daschle (late payment penalties will, however, likely be assessed). The facts clearly demonstrate a simple, honest mistake; nothing more.

5. The truly disgusting behavior is by those - here on this site and elsewhere - who would equate Daschle's behavior in these tax circumstances with the corrupt Bush practices that we have witnessed and been victimized by for the last eight years (John Wayne Gacey, indeed).

6. To paraphrase something that Steve Benen has said here many times, let's not let a (very) good candidate be the victim of the perfect standard of conduct. We should stop doing the GOP's (and their corporate media masters) dirty work.

Posted by: Analytical Liberal on January 31, 2009 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

I'm going to take a bit of that back.

If a friend takes you to the airport, it's a gift and therefore not income.

But Daschle's car and driver may have been a gift, too. The line between a gift and compensation is murky.

If Daschle didn't negotiate it as part of his compensation package, if the private equity guy just sort of offered it and never deducted it as compensation paid to Daschle and never included it on a W-2 or 1099, it may well be better-characterized as a gift.

But then the private equity guy may have gift tax problems. And if it WAS compensation and the private equity guy didn't report it to the IRS and to Daschle, he's in trouble there, too.

Now if the private equity guy DID report it to the IRS and put in on Daschle's 1099 or W-2, then Daschle would have been pretty dumb not to have reported it.

That leads me to think it is more likely to have been a gift than compensation.

Posted by: Cal Gal on January 31, 2009 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, Analytical Liberal, thanks for mentioning OID. What a headache I got trying to figure that out when working for a client who had never enforced a promissory note on a house she had "sold" to her daughter!

What I'd like to know is how they figured the car and driver was compensation and not a gift.

Looks like Daschle & Accountant are being pilloried for coming down on the "income" side of the equation and paying tax (which is good for the government) instead of making legitimate claims to avoid paying taxes.

Posted by: Cal Gal on January 31, 2009 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

Several points here:

• Steve, Geithner’s tax probs were only “relatively minor” if you do a dollars and cents comparison to Daschle’s.
And, you’re actually going to give Daschle credit for “correcting an error”? Not reporting compensation all the way back to 2005 is NOT an “error.”
• BlueStateDon is absolutely right about the vetting issues. Where’s that allegedly well-organized Obama campaign machine? Scratch that off the Obama hagiography list, I guess.
• Just Bill, how many “average Americans” get a car and driver as part of compensation? That said, the consulting income was something his firm failed to list, so I’ll actually cut him slack on this.
• Tanstaff, WRONG on how well Obama’s doing. Richardson’s problems, and the potential for them becoming more serious, were known before election day. On Geithner and Daschle, Obama could have asked either one to withdraw before we got to this point.
• NealB gets to the political bottom line with Daschle – he was even worse than Harry Reid as a Senate leader.
• Analytical Liberal – Daschle was on the board, no less, of this equity firm; don’t you think he should have considered getting more clarification three years ago?

And, no, none of this is as bad as the Bush Administration. But you can’t tell me Daschle’s vital to health care, especially when Obama is an incrementalist on the issue anyway.

On Geithner’s tax issues, he wasn’t even CLOSE to being the best person for Treasury. Joe Stiglitz immediately comes to mind.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on January 31, 2009 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

What I'd like to know is how they figured the car and driver was compensation and not a gift. Cal Gal

At this point I don't know where I read it, but two things considered are who gave it to you, and what was it worth. If the boss gives you a fruit basket at Xmas, no problem. If Mom gives you a car, no problem. If the boss gives you a car, it's compensation.

My question would be this: Daschle was a consultant, not an employee. The car was used for business related to the company. Is the argument that a contractor must use his own equipment?

Posted by: Danp on January 31, 2009 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

Geithner only got 60 votes in the senate, and he had multiple advantages Daschle doesn't: 1) financial crisis requiring Treasury Secretary post haste, 2) a portfolio with bipartisan support (no one wants the system to collapse), and 3) a reputation as a moderate.

Daschle's whole goal (health system reform) is opposed by the right. He was already targeted as a left-wing commie in the 2004 campaign, and there's no crying need to push through the confirmation yesterday. Plus resistance to Holder is fading, so the right wing would probably like a bogey man. I think it's going to be rough, even with Daschle's relationships in the senate.

Posted by: Rachel Q on January 31, 2009 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

When Geithner's tax evasion was the issue I analogized it to Patton slapping a soldier with PTSD - it would have been better for our system if we had replaced him, at least temporarily, with Larry Summers and proven we stick to our values even when it hurts. Now Daschle, with a lobbyist wife bringing in more than $3 million a year, has to try to cheat the system. Obama's honeymoon isn't going to last forever. If we don't address these issues soon, as Democrats, the Repubs are going to have a legitimate stick to hit us with.

Posted by: loki on January 31, 2009 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

That darned Daschle! Having a car and driver! Making money!

Who does he think he is? A Republican?

Posted by: Glen on February 1, 2009 at 1:18 AM | PERMALINK



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