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On monday, when asked if he still supported Tom Daschle as Health And Human Services (HHS) chief, even though Daschle owed $140K in back taxes until his nomination was announced, President Barack Obama said "absolutely."
On tuesday, after Daschle withdrew his name from consideration, Obama said the following during an interview with Chris Wallace. (link)
"...we can't send a message to the American people that we've got two sets of rules: one for prominent people and one for ordinary people. And, you know, so I consider this a mistake on my part and one that I intend to fix and correct and make sure that we're not screwing up again."
That's quite a change. What caused Obama's complete about face in one day ?
The President decided there shouldn't be "two sets of rules" only AFTER his nominee quit on his own. Prior to that, Obama was perfectly fine with two sets of rules. And if the same standard applied for everybody, Tim Geithner (didn't pay $35K in taxes) wouldn't be the Secretary of the Treasury.
According to Daschle, he called Obama to withdraw his name after reading a New York Times editorial against Daschle's nomination. (link) Wow. The Times was against something Obama did ??? Color me impressed. Obviously, this means the NY Times has been taken over by racists.
Just kidding. I couldn't resist.
To me, the most interesting part of Tom Daschle's HHS nomination wasn't the $140,000 in unpaid taxes, it was the fact that Daschle was lining his pockets working for a lobbying firm in the health care industry, and Obama selected him anyway, in spite of Obama's recurring pledges that lobbyists wouldn't work in his administration, that insider politics-as-usual would change, and all that rot. If Daschle is anything, he is an ultimate Washington D.C. insider power broker.
After 26 years in Congress, Daschle went to work for the lobbying arm of the K Street firm Alston & Byrd. Because Daschle was prevented by law from being a lobbyist for one year after leaving the Senate, Daschle's title was "special policy advisor." A&B was paid $5.8 million in the first nine months of 2008 to represent it's clients before Congress and the executive branch. The majority of that lobbying was done on behalf of A&B's clients in the health care industry. Daschle was paid $2 miliion by Alston and Byrd to be an "advisor." In other words, Daschle was a lobbyist without technically being a lobbyist. He legally skirted around the law. I'd presume this is not what Barack Obama meant when he said there would be "no special interests in the White House," but since Obama selected Daschle, who is hip deep in the lobbying game, I'm no longer sure what the heck Obama meant, or if he meant anything at all. Maybe it just sounded good on the campaign trail.
Daschle did have health care experience that dovetailed with Obama's interests, which made Daschle "the best man for the job" according to the White House.
Daschle acted as the coordinator of the failed effort to pass President Bill Clinton's comprehensive health-care bill in 1994, and he advocated for regulation of managed care, a patients' bill of rights, and prescription drug benefits under Medicare.
So, Daschle worked on HillaryCare, which went down in flames and is widely seen as the reason the Democrats lost control of Congress in 1994. Okay, that's something, but does it really make Daschle "the best man for the job" at HHS ? Not yet, but there's much more.
Here are the real reasons Daschle was "the best man for the job."
In february 2007, Daschle threw his support behind Obama for president, early during the primary season. He became a key Obama advisor and one of the national co-chairs for the Obama campaign. Daschle let it be known that he was interested in universal health care and would be interested in the HHS job. In 2008, Daschle co-wrote a book with two others, titled "Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis", which advocates a single-payer universal government run health care system. Daschle wanted to create a Federal Health Board to oversee all medical matters (BINGO !!! Best man for the job !!!). Most people call this socialized medicine. Obama has said he favors a single-payer system, and it's no secret that his health care proposals are designed to lead us there.
I submit the following - the Obama people don't give a darn that Daschle didn't pay his taxes, or that he worked for a lobbying firm in the very area he would have been running. Heck no. They just kept telling us what a great guy Daschle is, so very honest and upright. Then they feigned concern over these "serious matters," while hoping Daschle would be whisked right through the confirmation process. That's how the game works. What they were really telling you is that rules are for suckers, and D.C. power players aren't suckers. No sir. THEY are players. WE'RE the suckers.
But then Daschle up and quit, amid objections, so now the Obama administration pretends they are taking the high road, which they never were doing.
Playing "let's pretend" is the name of the game.
They pretend Daschle didn't know he owed $140,000 in back taxes until the second he was nominated to run HHS. They pretend it was just a coincidence that the penalties on those taxes were waived. They pretend Daschle thought his "friend" just gave him a free limousine and a free driver, even though that "friend" was Daschle's business partner. They pretend it's normal for a health care company to pay Daschle $83,000 for ONE MONTH of "consulting." They pretend it's normal for Daschle to fly all over the country in corporate jets. They pretend that it's normal to pay Daschle $15,000-$40,000 just to GIVE A SPEECH, which happened over and over and over again. Yeah, let's just pretend. Nothing to see here. No influence peddling. My, no. Just business as usual, D.C. style.
Somehow, none of the above actions by Daschle was deemed "shameful" by President Obama or his vetting team, because they selected Daschle. The Democrats reserve such labels for Wall Street compensation, oil company profits, and car company CEO's, but never one of their own. No sirree. Tom Daschle was merely an "honest and humble public servant."
That's the ticket.