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Obama backs Daschle, who apologizes to a public that hates tax cheats

Well, all the 1099's are arriving in the mail now, a sure sign of the start of tax evasion season.

For the second time in the formation of President Obama's new Cabinet, we get a would-be member apologizing for oopsing on his own income taxes -- not paying too much but, as always seems to be the case, erring on the side of self-interest and paying too little. First, Tim Geithner, who simply was too smart with money not to have as the nation's secretary of the Treasury in such troubled times.

Now, Democrat ex-Sen. Tom Daschle, who's simply the perfect guy to reform healthcare and essential to taking the country forward. Daschle issued a heartfelt apology today for failing to pay $128,000 in his taxes, plus nearly $15G's in interest and penalties, over several recent years.

He used what's come to be known as the GID tactic, the Geithner Inadvertency Defense. It was all an accident. "No excuse," he says. But inadvertent. Which makes it OK. Let's all try that on April 15.

See White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs employ a drawnout version of the same defense in the video below.

The back taxes due is a problem that only emerged after the selection of the now-rich South Dakotan to become secretary of Health and Human Services.

Ex Senator Tom Daschle of south Dakota proposed as secretary of Health and HujmanServices but he was way behind on his taxes

Makes you think if we just nominate a whole bunch more people for the Obama Cabinet, we could raise a sizeable sum in back taxes to help finance the economic stimulus package.

Oh, and BTW, where's the IRS been not finding these tax scofflaws in the first place over lo these partisan Bush years?

Finance Committee Chairman Max "Which Way Is the Wind Blowing?" Baucus of Montana says he is "convinced" that Daschle would be "an invaluable and expert partner" in driving healthcare reform. But, POLITICAL STORM ALERT, Baucus adds he wants to hear his committee colleagues' thoughts first.

Asked if he still backed Daschle today, Obama said simply, "Absolutely."

Coincidentally, published today was an annual survey by the IRS on public opinion toward tax cheats. News Flash: Americans don't like them -- 90% disapproval rate. Only 9% agree with Geithner and Daschle.

Daschle will be confirmed, of course. He used to lead the same majority partisan pack of senators who are voting on him and they belong to the same party as the Great Change Agent who nominated him.

(UPDATE: The Senate approves Eric Holder as attorney general, 75-21.)

Two risks ahead though: Beware the third-man-in rule -- If another tax scofflaw emerges, he/she's toast.

Also, longer term, Geithner, Daschle, Bill Richardson's cloud, appointing lobbyists after promising none, Obama and Democrats risk appearing elitist, that now that they're in, rules for the regular folk don't apply to them anymore.

First impressions are lasting. Ask Bill Clinton and one of his aides, Rahm Emanuel, now Obama's chief of staff. They stumbled early in 1993, added the Hillary Clinton health plan snafu, and lost both houses of Congress to the Republican Revolution of 1994 for 12 long years.

Speaking of 12 years, listen to Gibbs below.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo credit: Ron Edmonds / Associated Press

 
Comments () | Archives (8)

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What an embarrassment Andrew Malcolm's posts have become. Appropriately for an ex-Bush mouthpiece, this one pushes a particularly ugly lie: that Geithner and Daschle are "tax cheats," rather than people who made errors on what was taxable income, and have now corrected them. No matter how much Malcolm pushes the falsehood that motive doesn't matter in taxes, it does: "tax cheating" is intentionally underpaying your taxes when you knew better. That applies to neither Geithner nor Daschle.

Gives new meaning to the popular phrase "Doing the Daschle".

Wow! Can't Obama find ANY Democrats to appoint these days that aren't crooks? There has to be one, somewhere, doesn't there? NO???? Come on - try looking a LITTLE harder, will ya Obama? I would laugh if it wasn't so sad! What a huge JOKE this new administration is turning out to be!!! Do we have any volunteers to at least throw a crumpled 1099 form, if not a shoe, at any of these Bozos?
What a sad joke on the American electorate!

I wish I had the trust in Obama now that I had two months ago. His 'absolutely', without qualifications or elucidations, sounds awfully Bush-like.

LA Times, is it possible to replace Andrew Malcolm with a blogger who has equal journalistic abilities and a similar array of sources-- but one who doesn't project bitter, agenda-driven sarcasm on everything he writes about Democrats?

Tom Daschle deserves scrutiny for his tax problems, but snide zingers like "the Great Change Agent" and "speaking of 12 years, listen to Gibbs" aren't constructive in a news blog.

I didn't mind this so much when the Times balanced Mr. Malcolm out with Don Frederick, an equally gifted reporter whose own leftward tilt balanced out the blog.

But more than partisanship, I'm annoyed by the bitterness that pervades so many posts here, particularly in entries since the Democrats have taken all chambers in Washington. In a time that many Americans want to celebrate what's happening in Washington, our "insider's" window is filtered by a blogger's personal agenda.

The bias Mr. Malcolm projects onto his posts diminishes the virtues he brings as a reporter. And right now, the LA Times offers no "inside track" to Washington without wading through said bias.

Daschle, Sally Jesse Rafael called, she wants her glasses back.

Only the people are forced to pay all their taxes.

I would like to propose that a bill be submitted that would require that all elected officials and nominated officials have an IRS audit done each year to show the American people that as Vice-president Joe Biden said, that’s its patriotic for all Americans to pay their fair share. Also since we have an admitted tax cheat over the IRS, and one in charge of creating the rules and regulations for the tax code, that congress not be exempt from the penalties and interest the rest of America must pay. A yearly GAO audit must be done to prove no favoritism has occurred.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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