Saturday, January 31, 2009

This Subject Is Taxing My Patience

It seems like it was just a few days ago that we were talking about a nominee for a Cabinet post who cheated on his income taxes. Oh, that's right; we did. As the slicer-dicer commercial guy might say, "But wait--there's more!" That's right, another one:
ABC News has learned that the nomination of former Senator Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., to be President Obama's secretary of health and human services has hit a traffic snarl on its way through the Senate Finance Committee.

The controversy deals with a car and driver lent to Daschle by a wealthy Democratic friend -- a chauffeur service the former senator used for years without declaring it on his taxes.

It remains an open question as to whether this is a "speed bump," as a Democratic Senate ally of Daschle put it, or something more damaging.

After being defeated in his 2004 re-election campaign to the Senate, Daschle in 2005 became a consultant and chairman of the executive advisory board at InterMedia Advisors.

Based in New York City, InterMedia Advisors is a private equity firm founded in part by longtime Daschle friend and Democratic fundraiser Leo Hindery, the former president of the YES network (the New York Yankees' and New Jersey Devils' cable television channel).

That same year he began his professional relationship with InterMedia, Daschle began using the services of Hindery's car and driver.

The Cadillac and driver were never part of Daschle's official compensation package at InterMedia, but Mr. Daschle -- who as Senate majority leader enjoyed the use of a car and driver at taxpayer expense -- didn't declare their services on his income taxes, as tax laws require.
Is anyone else just totally sick of this? We simply cannot have two sets of rules--one for public "servants" and one for the average Joe--but if Daschle, like Tim Geithner before him, gets confirmed, this is pretty much exactly what will have happened.

Hat tip for this story goes to Instapundit, and you can read more on the subject from TigerHawk, as well as a big roundup at TaxProf Blog.

Scrappleface's Scott Ott has found a sliver lining in all this:
In office less than two weeks, President Barack Obama has already increased tax receipts at the U.S. Treasury with an innovative plan to get tax-dodgers to pay up, in full, immediately.

“The president’s plan is simple but ingenious,” said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, “He targets wealthy individuals who filed inaccurate tax forms, cheating the government out of tens of thousands of dollars. Then he just nominates them for cabinet positions. They suddenly see the error of their ways, and they cut checks for the full amount owed, plus interest.”
(Ott is a humorist, so the above is not a real quote from Gibbs, but it's still funny.) John Hinderaker at Powerline and Tom Maguire at Just One Minute have similar takes on the subject.

As I've said before, we need to get better people in government. Surely these people can't be the best and brightest that we have, can they? And nobody should be rewarded with a high-ranking government job if they did something that a "regular" person would go to prison for doing.

UPDATE: John Pitney at NRO's The Corner posts a very interesting quote, considering the source:
“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.
Indeed they should, Tom.

TUESDAY UPDATE: Daschle withdraws. And so has Nancy Killefer, nominee for "chief performance officer," whose outstanding tax bill was much smaller than Daschle's. And here's a good idea: Just audit every public official and get it over with, already.

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