I think Robert Reich got it dead on in describing the popular anger about Daschle's nonpayment of his taxes.
can, bought a home, obeyed the law, and paid every cent of taxes that
were due are beginning to feel like chumps. Their jobs are
disappearing, their savings are disappearing, their homes are worth far
less than they thought they were, their tax bills are as high as ever
if not higher — but people at the top seem to be living far different
lives in a different universe….and, not the least, the Washington insiders who have
served on the Hill or in an administration and then gone on to pocket
millions as lobbyists for the same companies they once regulated or
subsidized. To the American who's outside the power centers — the
places of entitlement and I'll-scratch-your-back-while-you-scratch-mine
deal making — the entire system seems rotten.
I think this is right — I'm just as horrified by the $5 million Daschle earned in two years as an "advisor" and "rainmaker," as by the tax issues.
I'm not quite sure why Geithner got away with it and Daschle didn't. In the abstract, I'd be more worried about the Secretary of Treasury not paying all his taxes than I would about the Secretary of HHS. Maybe because Congress was convinced that the stock market would collapse if they didn't approve Geithner right away. Maybe because someone who does his own taxes with TurboTax gets more sympathy than someone whose accountant is fudging things. (Daschle supposedly asked his accountant in JUNE if he should be reporting the car service as income — it shouldn't have taken more than a week for the accountant to say of course — unless the question he asked is "can you get away with this?" rather than "what is legal?") Maybe because it's hard to be sympathetic for someone who owes more in unpaid taxes than most people make in a year. Or maybe he just had bad timing.
Some different points of view from blogs I read:
- Becca at Not Quite Sure confesses her own tax sins.
- Martin Manley at Jam Side Down tells the story of his vetting and worries that we're disqualifying good candidates for "jaywalking."
I agree that Killefer's error was pretty minor, and shouldn't have disqualified her. I have trouble swallowing Daschle's multiple errors as just as trivial.