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

February 2, 2009 |  3:04 pm

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