Tom Daschle Didn’t Realize He Had to Pay Taxes on That, Either


Another confirmation, another embarrassing tax problem. In the latest incident, Health and Human Services nominee Tom Daschle, the former Democratic Senate minority leader, is apologizing today for tax oversights that ended up costing him $146,000 in back payments. Daschle knew since at least June that he may have owed taxes on a free Cadillac and driver provided to him by the private-equity firm whose advisory board he chaired. But according to the letter he sent to the Senate Finance Committee today, Daschle didn't really confront the matter until December, and didn't tell the White House until weeks after his nomination. Another innocent mistake? Sure. Taxes can get fairly complicated, and if Timothy Geithner, who was eventually confirmed as Treasury secretary, got the benefit of the doubt, you might expect the same for Daschle. And though the tolerance for these types of shenanigans is wearing thin, Daschle's chumminess with his former Senate colleagues may help his confirmation stay on track.

• Chuck Todd and friends suspect that "[b]ecause he’s a former senator, Daschle probably gets confirmed by his ex-colleagues. If he weren’t an ex-senator, his nomination would probably be dead right now." [First Read/MSNBC]

• Ezra Klein doesn't expect this to derail Daschle's nomination, since "the Senate is a chummy place and Daschle is well-liked within its walls." And seeing his "former colleagues leap to his defense and attest to his integrity and fairness, it's hard to argue that this isn't the guy you want convincing and cajoling and reassuring nervous senators when health reform turns hard." [American Prospect]

• Steve Benen also believes that Daschle's relationships with sitting senators "may ultimately save his skin." [Political Animal/Washington Monthly]

• The Wall Street Journal editorial board claims that "if Mr. Daschle were a Reagan or Bush nominee he'd now be headed back to private life faster than you can say John Tower." But we'll have to see if Democrats "treat Mr. Daschle according to the standard that Mr. Daschle set when he was running the Senate." [WSJ]

• Craig Crawford gleans from the Sunday talk shows that "what we know so far is not enough for Republicans to try and derail Daschle's path to becoming Health and Human Services secretary." [CQ Politics]

• Chris Cillizza says the impact on Daschle's confirmation is unclear, and notes that "Republicans have yet to put the full-court press on about the Daschle matter with the Republican National Committee simply sending out a collection of media stories about the matter but not offering any formal comment." [Fix/WP]

• Victor Davis Hanson asks how you can pick Daschle if you're "going to make a moral case against the pernicious role of D.C. lobbyists and insiders, for the moral need for taxes on the upper incomes, and for suspicion of perks and freebies." [Corner/National Review]

• Glenn Greenwald is more concerned about Daschle's ties to the health-care industry he's expected to regulate, calling him "one of the most ethically compromised Beltway mavens." [Salon]

• Ed Whelan writes that if "President Obama were really serious about ending business as usual, he would immediately withdraw the nomination of someone who was cheating big-time on his taxes and who didn’t level with Obama about the problem at the outset." [Corner/National Review ]

• Jennifer Rubin finds it "incomprehensible that he could actually be confirmed," but is mystified by the "ho-hum reaction of Senators from both parties." [Contentions/Commentary]

• Ed Morrissey calls it "a matter of trust." Neither Daschle nor Geithner "shows a compelling reason why they should have the public’s trust placed in them." [Hot Air]