Dump Daschle for cabinet post?

Saturday, January 31, 2009

A second Obama nominee has issues with the IRS. Apparently, Tom Daschle, Obama's nominee for the post of Secretary of Health and Human Services, has some problems with past taxes (h/t to Aziz Poonawalla). From the article:

Daschle filed amended tax returns for 2005, 2006 and 2007 to reflect additional income for consulting work, the use of a car service and reduced deductions for charitable contributions. He filed the returns after Obama announced he intended to nominate Daschle to head the Health and Human Services Department.

Most of the additional taxes resulted from unreported income from the use of a car service provided him by a close friend and business associate, Leo Hindery Jr. The unreported income for that service totaled more than $250,000 over three years.

Daschle also had unreported consulting income of $88,333, in 2007. He also had reductions to charitable contributions totaling about $15,000 over the three years covered, according to the Senate Finance Committee document. The document, marked "Confidential Draft," is a committee statement concerning Daschle's nomination.


I realize that many people make mistakes in their taxes. The US Tax Code is needlessly complex and changes all the time. That being said, there are plenty of professionals out there that do other people's taxes. Daschle most certainly could have afforded and excellent accounting firm.

While I am willing to cut some slack, for minor errors, this seems to be more than a minor error. Obama has made some great choices for Cabinet posts and other administrative positions. He has set the bar very high, which is why this nomination has me wondering if Daschle can do the job. Aziz Poonawalla, from the previously mentioned h/t) also wonders:

The sheen of technocratic comptence that is so critical to building popular support for bold policy starts to wear thin when your Cabinet picks keep making "stupid mistakes" (direct quote from an unnamed White House upper-up).


Who would have been a better choice?

17 comments:

Bob 4:20 PM  

I can only hope that Daschle would be a better DHS secretary than he was a Democratic leader.

Really, how hard is it to do your taxes? Like you said, accounts are really quite inexpensive. They often pay for themselves.

Mrs Furious 12:08 AM  

I think these are disqualifying offenses. Daschle is basically guilty of tax evasion in my book. The only reason he "amended" his returns is because his nomination would entail someone looking at his tax returns.

I don't even care if he would do a good job or not. GTFO.

P.S. NOT change I can believe in.

Mr Furious 12:10 AM  

Um, that was me...

B Mac 12:24 AM  

Agreed, Furious one. Amending your returns after Congress notices is sorta like confessing to breaking curfew when your parents catch you sneaking into the house at 3:00 a.m. smelling like booze. You don't get much credit for your "honest gesture" at that point.

I think Daschle would have been a good pick for the post, as it will probably consist primarily of negotiating with Congress over any potential Health Case reform. Daschle could have done it in a way that a lightning rod like Howard Dean never could; he (Daschle) was already a vanquished foe in the eyes of Republicans.

I can't think of who else Obama might pick, but it'll probably be a supporter that got snubbed the first time around (Sebelius?). After all, they're probably going to make a big "Team of Rivals: pick with Judd Gredd for Commerce Secretary.

B Mac 12:29 AM  

As for Change (and the believability thereof), I don't hold this one against Obama... but his vetters may have dropped the ball a bit.

"Tom, before we announce you, is there anything we should know? For example, have you at any time cheated on your taxes, smuggled drugs from Mexico in your rectum, or killed a hooker? If so, we kinda need to know now"

Pete 1:52 AM  

Just one more reason for a Fair Tax. There's no reason that we should have to hire "professionals" to be able to muck through the mess that is the current tax system. If it's that complicated, then there is a problem. Citizens shouldn't have to seek help to figure out what they "owe" to their government.

Sopor 10:32 AM  

"when your parents catch you sneaking into the house at 3:00 a.m. smelling like booze"

Ahhh the good ol' days. Forgiveable (eventually) for a 16-17 year old. Daschle? Me thinks not so much...

Smitty 11:09 AM  

I can only hope that Daschle would be a better DHS secretary than he was a Democratic leader.

That is exactly why I was not, and continue to not be, thrilled with Daschle as DHHS Head. Poor leadership, scattered ideology...and now a massive tax mistake.

As for who would be better...Gotta think about that one.

B Mac 12:20 PM  

There's no reason that we should have to hire "professionals" to be able to muck through the mess that is the current tax system.

Just do what I've always done; make so little money that the government doesn't care whether you screwed up your return. I do my taxes every year on the back of a cocktail napkin. No audit thus far.

steves 5:48 PM  

Howard Dean was suggested by the author of the article I quoted. While he may be a lightning rod, he certainly has the expertise to tackle things like health care reform. In other words, I may not like him, but I can respect his knowledge and admit he may be the one to tackle an important issue like health care.

Sopor 8:07 PM  

Just do what I've always done; make so little money that the government doesn't care whether you screwed up your return.

Sweet B Mac, I've got that covered!

Bob 10:31 PM  

"Just one more reason for a Fair Tax."

Oh my god, I laughed so hard at that one a peed a little.

You weren’t serious were you?

Pete 2:45 PM  

"Just one more reason for a Fair Tax."

Oh my god, I laughed so hard at that one a peed a little.

You weren’t serious were you?


You're right. Spending 3 hours on TurboTax to file 3 W-2s (one for my wife, two for myself because jobs "changed" midway through the year), savings account interest, mortgage interest, and student loan interest so we could get 14 bucks back from the Feds is much more sane. It's a great system, not complicated at all.

Why can't I NOT be penalized for having a decent job, and my wife having a decent job, too? Why can't I NOT be penalized for trying to establish savings? We don't have investments, own our own businesses, etc. And it's STILL a complicated pain in the butt.

Why should I have to mess with it at all? Scrap the whole crummy system, make it consumption based so I can keep what I make and get taxed on what I spend. Yeah, that's caaraaaazy.

Bob 5:50 PM  

"Why should I have to mess with it at all? Scrap the whole crummy system, make it consumption based so I can keep what I make and get taxed on what I spend. Yeah, that's caaraaaazy."

It is crazy to have a 38% sales tax system and lose great things like your mortgage deduction and your child credit. That is about what it would take to balance the budget on such a scam.

Sopor 8:59 PM  

That is about what it would take to balance the budget on such a scam.

Wait a minute... we balance the budget?

I'm with Pete. I know it's not a popular view around here, and I'm pretty sure somebody debunked it (by debunking the debunkers or some such stuff?) but I'm still not convinced it would work. And as one who has no mortgage or children... well yea, I'm not losing those benefits, so that doesn't bother me (right now).

Pete 10:13 PM  

Heh, it's Monday and I'm feisty, so I'll throw some more out there....

What's the difference between 38% sales tax and losing 38% through a complicated mess whre you have to meticulously figure out whether you're doing it right or not? You're bending over and taking it either way, one way is just more obvious.

You shouldn't *have* to have mortgage and kid deductions in order to survive. To me those just seem like concessions to make you feel like it's not as bad as it really is. "Oooo, the govt is taking 30% of my checks! Ahhhh, but it's ok, I'll pop out some kids and claim each of those buggers...now it's all better!" Yeah, that's the ticket.

Cut the friggin' spending, limit everything to survive on a budget (you know, that thing that we the little people have to create and survive on), and let us keep what we earn. Simple, straightforward.

Mr Furious 2:30 PM  

Pete, a 38% sales tax would be pretty fucking regressive—and account for a massive load on low income folks who need to spend most of their income just to get by. Whereas a rich guy who didn't buy a yacht one year would effectively pay (comparatively) nothing...

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