Monday, February 02, 2009

Daschle Apologizes for Income Tax Errors

From Washington

Thomas A. Daschle, fighting to defend his nomination to be secretary of health and human services, released a letter early today apologizing to the top lawmakers on the Senate Finance Committee for mistakes on his personal income tax returns that resulted in $146,000 in back payments.

"I am deeply embarrassed and disappointed by the errors that required me to amend my tax returns," he wrote to Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa). "I apologize for the errors and profoundly regret that you have had to devote time to them."

Daschle, who served as majority leader of the Senate, had once been expected to be confirmed easily by his former colleagues. But the tax problems, which were first reported Friday night, could pose a potential obstacle to the former senator from South Dakota.

Appearing briefly before reporters this morning at a White House meeting, President Obama, a close Daschle ally, said he "absolutely" stands by his nominee.

That support was reiterated by White House spokesman Robert Gibbs at his briefing with reporters today.

"We believe that the committee and the Senate as a whole will examine not just one mistake in [Daschle's] career but look at that longer, three-decade career of public service, of serving this country, serving the constituents both in South Dakota and across America," Gibbs said. "The president believes that Senator Daschle is the right person for the very important job of ensuring that we cut costs, reform our health-care system and finally give the American people, in health care, the outcomes that they deserve."

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