It has not even been a full month into President Obama’s administration and I am already ready to distribute awards for “Boneheaded Moves of the Year.” First, there was the bizarre appointment of Arne Duncan to the Department of Education without formal training in…uh…education. Then, investment banking lobbyist Mark Patterson’s number was drawn; even admist all the country’s financial woes and unscrupulous Congressional bailouts. Then, there was the nomination approval of defense lobbyist William Lynn as Deputy Secretary of Defense. His nomination came as a direct contradiction to the newly-established ethics guidelines Obama instituted; considering his strong lobbying on behalf of Raytheon, one of the country’s biggest contractors (ethics, be damned!). Adding insult to even more insult, Timothy “Taxes? What are Taxes?” Geithner was then peddled to the American people confirmed as Treasury Secretary. And just when I thought the formation of the Obama administration could not hit the wall any harder, enter Tom Daschle:
Former Sen. Tom Daschle, tapped by President Obama to lead his healthcare reform campaign, failed to pay more than $128,000 in taxes in the three years before Obama nominated him in December to head the Department of Health and Human Services.
The disclosure — involving unreported income and the use of a car and driver provided to Daschle — comes 2 1/2 weeks after Obama’s choice to head the Treasury Department, Timothy Geithner, admitted that he had not paid about $43,000 in taxes.
…The bulk of the unpaid taxes — first reported Friday by ABC News — stems from a lucrative business relationship that Daschle began with a wealthy investor shortly after Daschle left the Senate in 2005.
That year Daschle was paid $83,333 a month — or $1 million a year — to advise a private equity fund, according to a confidential draft report prepared by Republican staffers on the Senate Finance Committee.
The South Dakota Democrat was hired by Leo J. Hindery Jr., a longtime friend of Daschle’s, to consult for InterMedia Advisors. The private equity fund invests in media companies, including the Christian publishing house Thomas Nelson, the Gospel Music Channel, and Cine Latino, a leading Spanish-language movie channel.
Hindery, a Democratic donor who made a fortune in cable television, also provided Daschle with a car and driver beginning in April 2005.
Daschle estimated that 80% of his use of the car was for personal reasons. But he did not pay any taxes on the service until Jan. 2, 2009, when he filed amended returns for 2005, 2006 and 2007.
Read the rest of the article here.
Listening to Daschle’s people, you would think Daschle was a regular Mother Teresa. Rather than offering fair and appropriate critique, they are commending him – yes, commending him – for personally revealing his tax issues and reconciling them. To an extent, they are correct: Daschle did, in fact, report his own problems and has owned up to them. But before we pin him with a Medal of Honor, notice the timing. He only came clean after being selected Secretary of Health and Human Services.
All this leads me to ask a couple of burning questions: One, how many more cheats, liars, or clueless people will be considered for Cabinet positions? I thought the only major problem I would have with Obama’s picks was that they were a series of Clinton recyclables. But now, the possibility of having unvetted frauds in the Cabinet serves as another problem. Secondly, the media. What gives? Are the folks in the media truly that much more fascinated with 23-year-old gold medalists who puff than they are with a certain cheaters named Puff? Had this scandal involved a Republican, you’d best believe this would have been plaster all over the airwaves.
If there is one good thing to come out of this, our Good President from Illinois – with three words – has admitted something in his first month that our Good President from Texas was unable to mutter for eight years:
I can truly appreciate the President being open, honest, and forthright. Lord knows we were absent of that for a while; often with disasterous outcomes (see my personal favorites: Heckuva job, Brownie and Mission Accomplished). But while I give him kudos for acknowledging his mistake this time around, too many more of these mishaps might leave me with a pretty bad feeling about our new Commander-in-Chief.
I hate to admit this, largely because I dig Obama: but I’m I’m starting to see a little backwash in my Kool Aid.