Thursday, February 05, 2009

Departures Tarnish President’s Ethics Drive

The Financial Times recently posted an article discussing Obamas’ nominees that have recently withdrawn due to tax problems, and how they affect his presidency and the country. A section of the article can be read below, but the full post can be found here.

There could not have been a worse time of year for revelations to emerge about unpaid taxes by Tom Daschle and other prospective members of Barack Obama’s administration.

Over the next few weeks, millions of people will go through the onerous process of preparing their annual tax returns before the April 15 filing deadline.

The more sympathetic-minded might empathize with Mr. Daschle’s mistake, given the head-scratching complexity of US tax rules.

But many others are likely to feel angered that a Washington power broker skipped more than $140,000 of taxes, while ordinary people scramble to meet their liabilities at a time of mounting economic hardship.

“Tom Daschle, like Leona Helmsley, believes that only ‘the little people’ should pay taxes,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, quoting a notorious New York real-estate investor. “He thinks he’s too important for that, and he gives the word hypocrisy a bad odor.”

Mr. Daschle is hardly the first nominee for high office to be tripped up by tax irregularities. President George W. Bush lost two nominees – Linda Chavez for labor secretary and Bernard Kerik for homeland security chief – after it emerged that they did not pay Social Security taxes on the salaries of domestic employees.

President Bill Clinton saw his first two nominees for attorney-general – Zoe Baird and Kimba Wood – withdraw because of similar “nanny tax” violations.

Mr. Daschle might have survived his scandal had he been the only Obama nominee to face tax problems.

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