This editorial appeared in The (Tacoma) News Tribune.
Couldn't any of these folks afford to hire H&R Block?
Two nominations for high-profile positions in the Obama administration bit the dust this week after revelations of tax problems: Tom Daschle, the former senator nominated to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, and Nancy Killifer, the nominee for head of the Office of Management and Budget.
If it hadn't been for the fact that another tax scofflaw, Timothy Geithner, had won approval as treasury secretary, the sins of Daschle and Killifer might have been deemed survivable. But President Obama had promised that his administration would be different, that there wouldn't be different sets of rules for average people and the people who run things.
The American public is frightened enough by the economic crisis to cut Obama some slack on Geithner, who apparently has skills few others have. That's not the case with Daschle and Killifer; the positions they were nominated for are important, but it will be possible to find good people without their baggage.
Daschle's problems were particularly bothersome: He failed to pay $128,203 in taxes for the value of a chauffeur and limo provided to him as a perk of his million-dollar-a-year investment firm job. It would be hard to find many Americans who believe that he was unaware that the law requires people to pay taxes on perks like limo service.
On top of that, Daschle had a serious conflict-of-interest problems that put his nomination at odds with Obama's campaign pledge that "lobbyists will not find work at my White House." Daschle – who would have been in charge of overhauling the health care system – had taken more than $5 million in speaking and consulting fees from the health care industry.
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