Hypocrisy and Daschle’s Tax Problems

There was good news this week from Washington — at least for those of us who were worried that hypocrisy and double standards may have taken a fatal hit with the election of Pres. Barack Obama. Apparently we needn’t have worried because despite the promise of “change that we need” it is still politics as usual in Washington, D.C. and hypocrisy remains king of all things political.

Former South Dakota Senator Tom Daschle was Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services. Daschle was forced to withdraw his nomination in the third scandal in a row relating to nominees failing to have paid their taxes. In this instance the stench was too great for even the cozy Washington insiders’ club to ignore.

While most people focused on the failure to declare the value of limousine services paid for by his clients, the fact of the matter is that Daschle also failed to report consulting income of nearly $100,000. It is one thing to be confused about whether $250,000 worth of limousine services might constitute income and it is quite another to deliberately withhold disclosure of fees paid for consulting and speaking engagements.

And it wasn’t just an error Daschle discovered recently; he knew about it last summer and he still didn’t pay the taxes until he was nominated by Obama. One can speculate that had Daschle not been nominated, he would have never reported the additional income and would never have paid the taxes that were due and owing.

But none of this would ever bother Daschle who is know in some Washington circles as the king of hypocrisy. As Senate Minority Leader, Daschle was famous for rushing to the microphones to decry, in terms of “massive moral lapses”, everything the Bush administration did. One of the most famous of those instances was when Daschle was criticizing SEC Chairman Harvey Pitt. Daschle noted that Pitt once represented some of the nation’s largest accounting firms, that he consulted with representatives of the accounting industry before crafting and implementing securities rules and that he was just “too cozy” with the accounting industry. At the same time, Daschle dismissed inquiries as to whether there was a conflict of interest due to his wife lobbying Congress on behalf of the airlines industry — even in an instance in which the Boeing Company, a client of Daschle’s wife on whose behalf she lobbied the issue, received millions of dollars of loans and loan guarantees.

Daschle was thrown out of office by the voters of South Dakota, in part, because of his unmitigated hypocrisy. But, apparently, that defeat did not change his hypocrisy or his greed. After his defeat he became the penultimate Washington influence peddler. Daschle has been paid over $5 million during the past two years for consulting and speaking engagements — a large part of them on behalf of major members of the healthcare industry — the very group that he would have had to regulate as Secretary of Health and Human Services. Apparently, Daschle never registered as a Washington lobbyist but, trust me, in Washington you aren’t paid $5 million just because you are a nice guy — you are paid to exercise influence in one form or another.

But the hypocrisy is not limited to Daschle, or even his former colleagues in the United States Senate who rushed to his defense and described him in glowing terms as a man of integrity. It also extends to President Obama. Even as Daschle was exiting the process Obama was doing the Washington two-step. On Monday he made the obligatory statement that he stood firmly behind Daschle — this is usually Washingtonese for “pack your bags, your out of here.” And then, when Daschle actually withdrew, Obama noted:

“Tom made a mistake, which he openly acknowledged. He has not excused it, nor do I. But the mistake, and this decision, cannot diminish the many contributions Tom has made to this country from his years in the military to his decades of public service.”

We all would have felt better if Obama had actually said:

“Tom made a mistake, one that he chose to hide for over six months. He has not excused it, but he has sought to diminish it as a misunderstanding even though he deliberately failed to report nearly $100,000 in consulting and speaking fees. Tom’s decades of public service do not excuse his conduct and the smell of corruption is so pervasive that I withdrew his nomination and have asked the Justice Department to investigate whether criminal charges relating to his failure to pay taxes should be filed.”

That is the type of change we need, that is how you instill trust that you intend to proceed in an atmosphere where “politics as usual” is no longer the rule.

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  • Joe

    We now KNOW what we always thought. This Puff Daschle guy is a weak-kneed, sycophantic, bumbling, moronic, lying, tax cheat.
    Who cares a wit about him?

    He is rightly finished now, for all times, as a politician. Something that should have happened years ago.

    Peoples – wake up. Quit voting for scumbags.

    Obama – wake up – quit trying to promote these morons.

    Sad, very sad indeed.

    Change – transparency – ethics – NOTHING has changed from any previous administration. This Barry guy is same old stuff. Dishonest and foolish.

    NOTHING has changed.

  • John Fairplay

    I think it’s dissembling to refer to this as a “mistake” Just like Geithner (and why hasn’t he stepped down yet?), Daschle did this on purpose. How many people didn’t get health care or food stamps because Daschle wanted to keep an extra $35,000?

    Think taxes on the rich are too low? Imagine the cheating Daschle would be willing to do if the top rate went up to 50 percent.

  • Rupert in Springfield

    This is why some, myself included, feel some things that are small sleights need to be looked at a little more intensely when it is a matter of public officials. They seem to have the effect of building one upon the other. A little thing that maybe there is a reasonable argument to excuse, gets pushed and pushed until the inexcusable is excused.

    It leads us to the state we are now.

    We now think it is reasonable for a president elect to nominate someone like Bill Richardson with the idea that he will have his indictments cleared up before the confirmation process begins.

    Are people so partisan that they cannot laugh at the proposition of nominating someone about to be indicted?

    We now think its reasonable to have a treasury secretary who apparently has no knowledge of self employment tax. Last time I checked the IRS was a pretty big part of the Treasury department.

    We have a president who nominates someone like Daschle and then is treated seriously when he starts signing executive orders about lobbyists.

    That one should have been laughed off the map.

    We have a mayor in Portland who fully admits to lying about predatory sexual behaviour and that is just fine with a surprising number of people.

    All of it’s no big deal.

    Those who somehow got all exorcized and forced congressman Foley to resign over dirty emails have no problem with any of this.

    I seem to remember plenty of Republicans upset with Foley. I seem to remember plenty of Republicans upset with Larry Craig.

    The point is, I think many of us would not feel quite so worried about the country if we felt there was anything but blind following Democrats seem to exhibit for their leaders.

    Plenty of Republicans criticized Bush for a myriad of things. When Democrats cannot criticize in a forthright manner, some of these ridiculous appointments that aren’t anywhere close to reasonable, it betrays a mindless group think that is more than a little scary.

    If there was ever one thing that could be distilled down that I find bugs Republicans about Democrats, I think that would be it. The event of Obama’s appointments reaching a critical mass of absurdity while garnering absolutely no scorn from the Democratic base crystallizes that mindlessness in a way I haven’t seen since the Clinton/Chinese money laundering events of over a decade ago.

    • dean

      Rupert…your central premise is in error. The New York Times, Salon Magazine, and numerous other publications and commentators you would consider to be on the left editorialized against Geithner and Daschle. Obama has also been criticized from the left for appointing centrist economic advisers, for not closing Gitmo immediately, and for not withdrawing from Iraq more quickly. You need to read the left media more widely before you continue in your blanket critique, which is not supported by facts.

      Elliot Spitzer got the same or more treatment as Foley and Craig, yet Vitter in Louisiana has been given a pass by the left and right, even though what he did was equal to what Spitzer did.

      For my money, we are already paying far too much attention to “small sleights” on the part of public officials, and this has led to a lot of talent that has no interest in exposing their private lives to public service. Few of us would look very good under a magnifying glass.

      • cc

        “For my money, we are already paying far too much attention to “small sleights” on the part of public officials, and this has led to a lot of talent that has no interest in exposing their private lives to public service. Few of us would look very good under a magnifying glass.”

        dean’s right – we need more, not less, corruption in our elected officials. That way we’ll get a “lot of talent” which we’re currently missing out on. The bar needs to be lowered – something along the lines of manslaughter (with an obvious Kennedy exemption) – to trigger investigations or removals from office. I’m sure we’re all as dirty as dean thinks we are. I think dean believes “public service” means being “publicly serviced” like his blameless friend Sam Adams.

        On the other hand, dean’s probably just projecting again. Between that and his moral equivalence/moral relativism schtick, I’ll just bet he wouldn’t look very good under a magnifying glass. Of course we’d have to stick pins in him to hold him down and who’d really want to look – ick!

        I wonder what his dirty little secret is – after all, everybody’s got one (or more) according to dean. I wonder if he’s reported all his income. I wonder if he’s paid all his taxes. I wonder if he’s had any laborers on his “farm” for whom he’s forgotten to withhold taxes. I wonder if he’s abusing any tax breaks or gaming the system in any way.

        Anyone who so ardently asserts that “everybody does it” most certainly does, himself.

        But who cares? As we all know, at least he’s got “lots of talent”.

        • dean

          Your propensity to throw lots of stones is fortunately matched by the lack of accuracy of your aim. I can see where that might be frustrating.

      • Rupert in Springfield

        Oh good lord.

        Can you get back to me on how the press is hounding Chuck Rangle over his tax evasion?

        Can you please list for me the stories calling for Geithners resignation?

        Look, face it, Democrats are followers, they do what their masters tell them. In no way to they hem and haw about these clowns the way they would if they were Republicans.

        Sure the Nation might make a mention or two during the nomination process, but I can guarantee you of one thing:

        After a few weeks time, Democrats do what they are told and walk in lock step. They shut up. Don’t criticize your leaders, follow them.

        You think I am wrong?

        Fine, you will get a full apology when Rangle resigns. After all you would think a tax cheat leading the committee that writes the tax code would be a big deal. I watch OPB every night, listen to NPR, what do I hear? ZERO!

        Too tough? ok

        You will get a full apology when Geithner is hounded out of office. Sure haven’t hear NPR or OPB editorializing for his resignation since his appointment.

        Still too much? Ok, lets concentrate on you, things you can control.

        You will get a full apology from me if you can point to a single past post of yours on this blog expressing outrage, to the extent of saying Obama should pull the nomination, at Daschle, the consummate Washington lobbyist and tax cheat being considered for the HHS post. Show me where you have pointed to the hypocrisy of railing against lobbyists and then nominating Daschle. Show me where you have called for Obama to rescind the nomination because of that or the tax issues. You say Democrats criticize their own when I say their lack of doing so indicates a brain dead follow the leader mentality? Fine, now is your chance to show you are not one of them. Show me one post of yours in the past where you said Daschle should not have been nominated or Obama should pull the nomination and you will get a full apology from me.

        So get back to me when you figure it all out. Until then:

        Sit down

        Be quiet

        and follow, don’t think.

        You’re a follower Dean.




        live with it.

        • dean

          So the absence of hounding everybody means they are not hounding anybody? That is an interesting standard you have. I can see why you get frustrated.

          No…no big lists. I’m not obsessive compulsive about this. do your own research.

          You listen to NPR? You masochist you. I would think you would be better informed. As my dear mom might have said, it must be going in one ear and out the other.

          Rupert…I can’t point to a post of me expressing *outrage* about anything. I tend to maintain self-control. In fact I heard something on NPR tonight about Obama limiting executive pay of bailed out banksters because “people are outraged.” Are they really? I have encountered about 200 different people in just the past week and not one expressed any *outrage* about executive pay. They were talking about how nice the snow was, or the deadlines we have on a project, or what the conservation overlay on the Damascus plan really means. And what nice weather we are having. No *outrage* at all.

          Anyway…no…I’m not *outraged* about the Daschle nomination, and I never called for his being put into the stocks. I actually don’t care much about his late tax payment. But I’m glad he pulled out because we don’t need more bread and circus, we need comprehensive health care legislation. I’ll tell you what. If my weeney Democrats fail to get something passed on that, I’ll be outraged at the Republicans who managed to thwart them yet again….the morons.

          I am sitting down.

          I am quiet.

          I feel peaceful and in harmony.

          I think…therefore I follow…..evidence and good ideas. Not ideology.

          • Rupert in Springfield

            >So the absence of hounding everybody means they are not hounding anybody?

            Put down the pipe – step back – just walk away –

            Who ever claimed they had to hound everyone for them to hound someone?

            Did this little gem seriously pop into your head while you were in a sober state? I don’t think I have seriously wished I was talked to someone who was stoned as much as now. If you are not smoking dope and this kind of thing comes out of your mouth, that is really freakin scary.

            Yeesh, what were you thinking here? And that’s your lead!

            You better sharpen up is all I can say.

            >That is an interesting standard you have. I can see why you get frustrated.

            No, that doesn’t frustrate me, frankly it is making me laugh right now.

            What the hell does that mean? I mean seriously, this statement is so ludicrous.

            I listed several people. You once again mistook several for meaning all.

            Dean “several” is different from “all”

            >Rupert…I can’t point to a post of me expressing outrage about anything. I tend to maintain self-control.

            Well that’s a crock. Less than a week ago you were accusing former president Bush of treason.

            God, you’re killing me here.

            You might maintain something, but it aint self control. I think you maintain a crockery of crock ideas in a mental kingdom of non thought ninnydom.

            Please, put a little more effort into your statements than you have shown here. I know followers tend to let others do the thinking for them, hence the cerebral laziness you tend to demonstrate.

            However this claim, that you maintain self control and don’t express outrage, is hardly worth the carbon footprint of the electrons used to form it on my screen.

            >You listen to NPR? You masochist you. I would think you would be better informed.

            Well, I prefer to listen to both sides of an argument, hence why I tend to be better informed than you on most issues. Lets face it, you were the one that tried to make the argument that since the CRA existed under both Republican and Democratic presidents, then you didn’t see what it could have to do with the current fiscal problem. Talk about an idiotic argument.

            When I am wrong, I admit it, as I have done several times to you. When I am right, I rub your nose in it. As I am doing right now.

            >I think…therefore I follow…..evidence and good ideas. Not ideology.

            This coming from the guy who still maintains AGW computer models are predictive when we are in the middle of a record freeze. Didn’t you also try claiming the “hockey stick” was still considered valid about a year ago? And didn’t you also claim Clintons lies did not lead us into a war or bombing in the middle east? And arent you also still one of those who actually thinks the New Deal got us out of the depression?

            Yep…. yep…. yep……so much for that one…..

          • dean

            After I pointed out the NY Times editorialized for Daschle to withdraw, you brought up Rangle, apparently to re-prove liberals never turn on their own. So I concluded that you feel unless they hound everyone out, they must be in lockstep.

            Haven’t had a good toke in years. If we keep this up I may need one.

            “Less than a week ago you were accusing former president Bush of treason.”

            You like to put words in my mouth. I never said *treason* and never expressed *outrage.* I merely showed you Bush lied when he said he had *no doubt* about Saddam still having functional WMDs that were a threat to us. He had to have had doubt if he listened to his own staff reports, which clearly had doubt.

            Well….I may be a ninny with a crockery of crock ideas….but I’m a calm and collected ninny. Not an *outraged* one. Outrage leads to stupid decisions, like the time I decided on the spur of the moment to challenge a guy that looked like he lifted semi trucks for recreation after he nearly ran me over, and he picked me up and threw me through a plate glass window. I am calm…centered…peaceful…not bleeding all that badly thank goodness.

            As a rule, NPR reporters don’t present arguments. They present facts and analysis. Anyway exposing yourself to “both sides” doesn’t mean you actually hear and consider the side that does not fit your preconceptions. I listen to Rush sometimes, but am never able to make anything out of his bombastic nonsense.

            I don’t think I ever said anything pro or con about AGW computer models. I think I wrote that the *preponderance of evidence* demonstrates that AGW is most likely a fact, and that ignoring this is foolish and risky. At least that is what the *preponderance of scientists* seem to believe. And yes, the “hockey stick” is still valid among actual scientists, whom you don;t see much of in right-wing denier blog circles. And yes..it is still cold in winter. Why wouldn’t less than 1 degree of global warming make our 45 degree latitude winters like San Diego? Gee. I dunno. Let’s see em explain THAT one! Hah!

            And on Clinton, I wrote that there is no e-v-i-d-e-n-c-e that his lies about Monica had anything whatsoever to do with his deciding to stop the budding Kosovo genocide or launch missiles aimed at Osama. You cited s-p-e-c-u-l-a-t-i-o-n…not e-v-i-d-e-n-c-e.

            And no…I did not claim the New Deal got us out of the depression. I think it got our parents and grandparents *through* the depression in a way that minimized suffering. I think the massive stimulus deficit spending of WW2 got us *out* of the depression. Me and a mere few thousand economists.

  • Jerry

    Yes, little things like tax evasion, lying, stealing, etc. Little things that should not be allowed to get in the way of the greatness of these people.
    What with 500,000,000 Americans losing their jobs every month we have to do something!
    Let’s keep these fine people aboard to help before more of us lose our jobs.
    We must think of the big picture, like Dean is able to do, rather than such petty things as breaking the law.
    Peoples – remember, they are peoples, too, and we must support them.
    I am with Dean on this.
    In 12 months the whole world will be out of work at this rate, stated so clearly by that really smart lady, Nancy.

  • John in Oregon

    Rupert and Jerry

    Daschles’ tax evasion and lobbying without registering is far from the most damming that can be said.

    Carter Clews in his piece *Kicking Daschle While He’s Down* states:

    “They say you should never kick a man when he is down. Well, not to be flippant, but I’ve never paid much attention to “they.” And the fact is, Tom Daschle is no ordinary man. The now former HHS nominee and admitted tax cheat is a bare-knuckle politician who makes former heavyweight Chuck Webner (he of “My three best punches were the choke hold, the rabbit punch and the head butt” fame) look like the Marquis de Queensbury.”

    “Now, please understand, I really don’t have all that big a problem with Mr. Daschle lining up phony preachers to make bogus charges against John Thune in the hotly contested 2004 Senate race… And I can even understand Mr. Daschle voting for higher gas taxes, higher death taxes, higher marriage taxes, higher estate taxes, higher incomes tax, higher taxes on the elderly, and even trying to impose a tax on the Internet. After all, Mr. Daschle is a card-carrying Democrat…”

    “But, I do have a real serious problem with Tom Daschle quite possibly costing the lives of three good, decent doctors in a 1994 mercy-mission plane crash, so that he could do a political favor for an old buddy and rake in some additional campaign contributions. And that’s why I am more than happy to kick this five-ply, two-bit politician while he’s down on his hands and knees groping around for the next tawdry place to make an easy buck.”

    Clews then goes on to quote information from the New York Times and 60 Minutes to mail down the story of how Daschle and his wife used their Government position to halt federal regulation of South Dakota’s B&L Aviation.

  • John in Oregon

    I just noticed. A bad memory must be a Democrat occupational hazard.

    I heard on the news as noted by the *0,* after the fact, that Peter Courtney, Salem Democrat did not declare that he had a potential conflict of interest on the public works bill which includes $30 million for Courtney’s employer.

    Only after a complaint Courtney belatedly issued a notice of a potential conflict of interest. According to the *0* Courtney said “I just flat-out forgot” “I made a mistake.”

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