“Make no mistake, tax cheaters cheat us all, and the IRS should enforce our laws to the letter.”
(Sen. Tom Daschle, Congressional Record, May 7, 1998, p. S4507)
It has been reported that Tom Daschle, who holds a degree only in political science and at various times in his Senate career was a member of both the Finance and Ethics committees and afterwards a paid lobbyist (reportedly $2 million in 2008) with Alston & Bird (whose clients include CVS Caremark, the National Association for Home Care and Hospice, Abbott Laboratories and HealthSouth), not only “forgot” to pay taxes on perks received, but has also had “some [other] tax issues” – in one instance being paid $220,000 in speaking fees by health care groups with a vested interest in the work done by the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Which you should know includes advising the President on matters of health, welfare, and income security programs.
For most of us who’ve been exposed to the corporate world, conflicts of interests are a big no-no. As is even the appearance of impropriety. Full disclosure is required at the first sign something might be or might be “merely” perceived as being even the slightest bit amiss. When even the perception of vested or conflicts of interests ruin one’s credibility in the business world, I have to ask – why is it any different for those running the business of our government?
Apparently it is different, because despite “concerns” over Daschle’s tax situation, most are going on record saying (at best) they’ve not yet made up their minds about confirming him, or (at worst) that they think it’s ok. Our President being in the latter camp.
When I was growing up, we were taught that a lie by any other name is still a lie. Have we grown so complacent we will accept thin justifications based on selfishness over truth – even over black and white law – and honestly believe that nothing can be done?
This may be falsely termed yet another era of change*, but in many respects enough important things remain the same that plenty can be done. And plenty could have been done had enough people pulled their head out of the sand and taken a firm stance towards responsible accountability and honesty on Election Day*. Shouldn’t it be common knowledge that every one of those people in Washington are public servants, that they work for every single one of us? Just because we choose to send them to Washington to represent us doesn’t make them somehow smarter; unless you call the latest examples of deliberate cunning used for the personal gain of Daschle and Geithner intelligence.
I don’t. And those who cannot lead by example, even the most simple ones like properly paying taxes (when they, far more readily than the rest of us, can afford to pay someone competent to figure out their taxes for them), do not deserve my vote nor deserve the privilege of serving the people of the United States. Need I spell it out in plain English that if they are, indeed, too stupid to do something as simple as properly pay their taxes they really shouldn’t be representing us in the first place? Nor should those who think those kind of “mistakes” are ok be in charge of anything.
Bottom line: blaming your accountant doesn’t absolve you of your personal responsibilities. The IRS uses those kinds of “problems” all the time to nail criminals wanted for other reasons. And claiming “confusion” about “reentering private life” is a cheap and smarmy ploy for sympathy; it’s pathetic and inexcusable when that reentrance into a well-heeled private life took place five years ago.
Think about it. Do we really want such a slow learner (or an outright cheat) in charge of Health & Human Services?
* – According to the numbers, very little changed after the 2008 election. In the House of Representatives, 381 of 435 members returned (31 retired; 23 were defeated in either primary or general elections) and in the Senate, only 4 out of 29 running incumbants (5 if you count Minnesota) were defeated. (Source: The Corner, National Review Online)