Barack Obama has been fulfilling his campaign promise of an ethical, cleaned up administration - in a backwards fashion; he finds people with tax evasion problems and offers them cabinet positions when they pay what they owe. In an interesting turn of events, however, tax-troubled nominee Tom Daschle has stepped down and Mr. Obama will have to pick somebody else to take his place.
Former senator Tom Daschle found himself in hot water during his would-have-been confirmation over the $140,000 worth of back income taxes he knew about last summer, but didn't pay until about the time he was nominated to be Secretary of Health and Human Services. At the worst, Daschle was purposefully trying to avoid paying his taxes, and at the best he was plain sloppy in fulfilling his obligations.
The Wall Street Journal suggested that Mr. Daschle do the honorable thing and step down. "If Mr. Daschle were the stand-up guy his fellow Democrats say he is, he'd withdraw his nomination and spare them the embarrassment of confirming someone who thinks the tax laws apply only to other people." To his credit, Mr. Daschle has done so.
Daschle's dropping out doesn't remove the dingy mark from President Obama, however. The New York Times focused the criticism on Obama because of his leniency with Daschle and other spotted nominees, saying, "During almost two years on the campaign trail, Barack Obama vowed to slay the demons of Washington, bar lobbyists from his administration and usher in what he would later call in his Inaugural Address a 'new era of responsibility.' What he did not talk much about were the asterisks." Those asterisks include giving a military contractor lobbyist a top job in the Pentagon, and having nominated Tom Daschle even though he's received over $300,000 from companies in the health field – companies that he might have regulated as HHS Secretary. Those asterisks include standing by both Mr. Daschle and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner after revelations of serious failures to fulfill their tax obligations in a timely manner.
These things muddy the new President's self-portrait as an ethical leader. Yet, President Obama defended his nominee until Mr. Daschle stepped down. Why? Because these two men see eye-to-eye on things.
Even if Tom Daschle had not tumbled into his current slough, fiscal and social conservatives would have still considered the man a frightening prospect for Health Secretary. During his years in the Senate, Mr. Daschle consistently voted for taxpayer-funded abortions. He voted to endorse Roe v. Wade in 1999 and 2003, and he voted for partial birth abortion after he voted against it. He planned to orchestrate a federal take-over of America's health care system, putting American health in the hands of ever-bigger government. His high view of 'comprehensive' sex education is just the icy top on the troubling mountain of Daschle politics.
Barack Obama's liberal agenda was no secret during his campaign, and he selected Tom Daschle as the perfect man to push through his health plans, from abortion to socialized medicine. Despite Obama's calls for high ethical standards, he was willing to let Daschles' errors and weaknesses slide because the two men are kindred spirits.
Mr. Daschle may have done the decent thing and stepped down, but President Obama will soon replace him. If the President intends to follow through with his campaign promises, the next nominee will hold the same big government, socially liberal views as Mr. Daschle. At least Obama will make sure the next candidate is more thoroughly vetted. We'd hope.
Tom Daschle Withdraws as Obama's Health Secretary Nominee - ABC News
Driving Mr. Daschle Out? - The Washington Post
Driving Mr. Daschle: Tax avoidance and Democratic Party standards - The Wall Street Journal
Obama’s Pledge to Reform Ethics Faces an Early Test - The New York Times
Tax Cheat Daschle Favors “Federal Reserve for Health - Canada Free Press
How To Reverse Obama's Culture Of Death - WorldNetDaily