Melanie Sloan, the executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, noted the Geithner nomination in saying she suspected tax problems would not prevent Daschle from becoming the next health secretary.Meanwhile the New York Times reports that Sen. Kennedy is making calls in support of Sen. Daschle; a confident President Obama so far is not. Perhaps the tide is turning in his favor after thie HHS nominees obviously heartfelt apology.
"If the guy who is overseeing the IRS can get away with a tax problem, how are you going to hold up the health and human services secretary over taxes?" she asked.
The Times also gives details about the deduction he took for a personal gift to a wounded Iraqi war veteran even though contributions to individuals are never deductible. Again, you'd think the celebrated tax expert would have known that. But yesterday Hugh Hewitt argued on his radio program that rich people shouldn't be judged too harshly when they get in trouble about taxes since their finances are more complicated that those of regular people, requiring them to trust tax advisers who can make honest mistakes. Perhaps more to the point, Hugh is also concerned that instead of Daschle we might get Ira Magaziner or Michael Moore working on health care policy.
Does Daschle deserves a pass? Perhaps, unless we learn something new. Still, it's hard to believe how anyone, rich or poor, could accept livery services for three years without wondering just once who was paying for them and whether he or she had a tax liability as a result. If nothing else, the rocky start of these two Cabinet members will encourage the gentry to pay a little more attention to their 1040s and the provenance of the Lincoln Town Car that oils into the porte-cochere every morning.