Opinion: Now, it’s Tom Daschle who forgot to pay taxes--$128,000 worth

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More simple, inadvertent, overlooked, accidental, good-faith tax mistakes in the would-be Obama Cabinet.

This time it’s Tom Daschle, the former South Dakota senator and Senate Democratic leader who got knocked off by the Republicans in 2004, shown here demonstrating the size of his tax mistakes over three years.


President Obama had wanted Daschle to be secretary of Health and Human Services and also honcho the administration’s signature healthcare reform out of the White House.

But it turns out Daschle failed to pay $128,000 in taxes over three years in private life when he was getting paid $1 million a year to offer advice to rich people. Good thing Daschle wasn’t nominated to be secretary of the Treasury.

Can you imagine how embarrassing it would be for the top Treasury officer to also make simple, inadvertent, overlooked, accidental, good-faith, ultimately corrected tax mistakes?

Oh, wait that did happen. Timothy Geithner missed paying $43,000 in taxes and didn’t repay some until the Obama transition team insisted. But because it was so accidental and he’s so good with money and numbers, Geithner got confirmed anyway by his party’s Senate. So now he’s lecturing bonused bankers about their outrageous greed.

What do you suppose will happen to Daschle over the revelation, initially by ABC News, that he didn’t pay nearly three times that much money in taxes? His confirmation hearing is yet to be scheduled, but committee records indicate he filed amended returns for 2005, 2006 and 2007 just 29 days ago and has so far paid more than $140,000 in back taxes and interest.

The White House issued a statement late Friday night saying, ‘The president has confidence’ that Daschle’s the right guy for healthcare reform. Which isn’t the question actually.


Daschle was way too busy to speak Friday, so he sent out his poor spokeswoman, Jenny Backus. She said: ‘Sen. Daschle is embarrassed and disappointed by these errors.’

Well, as long as he’s embarrassed, it’s probably OK for Daschle to join the administration of the ex-senator from Illinois who’s going to be transparent, not allow a single lobbyist anywhere near power and change the way things are done in Springfield.

No, uh, make that Washington.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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