February 3rd, 2009
04:45 PM ET

Daschle is Done. Health Reform Is (Probably) Not.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/02/03/daschle/art.daschle.gi.jpg]
Jonathan Cohn
The New Republic

Can health care reform go ahead, this year, even without Tom Daschle? Yes.

Does this episode–and Daschle's absence–make the task of enacting health care reform harder? Yes, although how much harder is difficult to say right now.

Daschle had a combination of talents not easy to find in one person–poiltical savvy, connections in Washington, and a thorough knowledge of health care policy. But that doesn't mean you can't replace those skills, particularly if you're willing to find several people instead of one.

Remember that Daschle was actually up for two posts. He was going to run the White House office of health care reform. And he was going to lead the Department of Health and Human Services.


Filed under: Jonathan Cohn • Raw Politics
soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. Joseph Ross

    Come on this is not about forgetting to pay your taxes, this is being greedy. It is not a free ride any more we cannot afford to carry you know longer. Pass the bill in give us some support. Before the rest of us middle-class blue collar workers be on the street.

    February 4, 2009 at 3:34 pm |
  2. ronvan

    Can't have it both ways: Do not beleive for a second that Daschle did not know about his tax situation! Just another example of how our elected officials become so repugnant in putting THEIR welbeing ahead of our county! I also cannot beleive that there are not other people in our country that could not be put in charge of HHS and maybe even do better!

    February 4, 2009 at 9:43 am |
  3. Shelly

    Okay he didn't pay his taxes until he got the nomination,and yes they should have asked the man is there anything he needed to disclose to them,but he paid it and he said that he was sorry .They should have just let it go after all we had to endure eight years with people in office appointed by bush who know Nothing at all! The Justices system was a joke under bush!! Yes The President said that he wont's to have a transparent staff everyone isn't clean and why couldn't we just give him this one I mean The republicans knew that there leader and chief was a idiot and his vice president yet they sat there and said nothing why? cause they were all getting rich and there friends,friends while hardworking people were loosing there jobs,medical,homes at least Daschle have the expertise to fix health care for those who cant afford it and those who lost it.Yes he was wrong but I cant but wonder why the republicans was so hard on him for that.is it because he use to work for former president cliton and the man knows his stuff! at least President Obama didn't choose idiots like bush.

    February 4, 2009 at 5:52 am |
  4. J.V.Hodgson

    No one is indispensable, is a first rule of free market business.
    Problem is freemarket business via Lobbying and pork runs American politics.
    Fix the real problem and stop demanding 100% perfection from your voted in officials. The only one I know who claimed to be perfect ended up being crucified.
    The American tax system is labyrinth like to say the least. It is not surprising that you can "catch" many in Tax issues and note these guys relative to total income were guilty at the peanuts level.
    Oh and by the way, I am a CPA and have had to make amended tax returns because I missed a tax law change or Court ruling, on the multiple income sources I had. I made the adjustments paid the tax and the penalty ( that's what penalties are for) and reported same to the professional association, but I am still a CPA.
    Should I be thrown out because of either an honest mistake, or fauilure? (as not being a CPA) by my CPA advisors failure for not giving the correct professional advice he/she is supposed to give, which done professionally by him'her would avoid the obvious error by Daschle of not declaring the car benefit.
    Please guys its true the options for Mr Average to get it wrong are minimal as most tax ( sometimes all) is deducted at source, and the more you get from different sources the more chance of mistakes ( also outright evasion unfortunately) which is why these guys appoint a specialist advisor to negotiate the Labyrinth.
    Too many of these comments represent " holier than thou" which is not necessarily fair.
    His lobbying and his wifes were the problem forget the tax which relatively speaking is anone issue as to whether he could do the Job to which he was nominated. Scandal more important than reality??

    February 4, 2009 at 3:07 am |
  5. Christine

    Iron sharpens iron. Many of the people that have been appointed lately are very sharp at what they do. If they've made mistakes and are truly repentant – they deserve a better chance to make better. Police and FBI are always hiring crooks to help them track down others (i.e. hackers) who are from the same mind-set. If these politicians can turn around their bad for good, we'd be a much better country. Americans will need to do their part to ensure they keep honest.

    February 4, 2009 at 12:22 am |
  6. martin

    hi anderson

    shouldn't the irs audit all of our ivory tower politicians. that alone could balance the budget.

    February 3, 2009 at 11:43 pm |
  7. Mike K.

    2 comments. Who in the world is "vetting" the potential cabinet members? How did Dachle and others get through these vetters?

    More importantly, wouldn't the honorable thing for Daschle et al todo is let the vetters know there are some tax issues? It seemed liked ego got in the way of ethics and honor. Should we taxpayers just accept someone apologizing for a back tax issue and then expect to be confirmed? Yikes!

    February 3, 2009 at 11:07 pm |
  8. Pat Canada

    The honourable thing would have been for Daschle to thank the President for his offer and decline at the onset. A man doesn't owe $100 thou in taxes and not know about it and he wasn't unique given the other tax problems with Obama's appointments currently. Hence, foresight should have told him the outcome that transpired. I'm sure he's a good and honest man but these Politicians give the impression they really believe they should get special treatment re: taxes given this many cases among them!

    February 3, 2009 at 10:34 pm |
  9. Joe Meyers

    It's been reported that Tom Daschle is being paid $1,000,000 per year to be a consultant to somebody. Who is paying him that much money and how does he earn it?

    The amount of money being paid and the vagueness of the duties of a 'consultant' suggests that he may be receiving this money in return for favors he did for this person/company while he was a Senator.

    Does anyone know who is paying him this 'fee' and whether Daschle paid political favors to his current employer while he was in office?

    To move from Senator to a million dollar per year consultant creates an odor that can be smelled from coast to coast. What happened here?

    February 3, 2009 at 10:14 pm |
  10. jeanette perlman

    I am extremely upset that Daschle has withdrawn. He is the best person for the job based on his knowledge, his skills and his competency. The factors of his taxes is not relevant to what he can do as Secretary of Health and Human Services. He should not have withdrawn and you, President Obama, should not apologize. You did in fact recognize what the qualifications are and should be; the politizing of this element of taxes is not a relevant job criteria. And, Daschle did pay his taxes. I am very disappointed. What about the factr that Geitner has been approved? I cannot see how we can go ahead with Change when we keep looking back at old rules and the old boys club of keeping out the others. We need an individual in each position who has the credentials and who has the competencies, experience, and knowledge. We also need people with a vision. No one has ever become the President of anytime who followed all the old rules and gone up through the ranks. jp

    February 3, 2009 at 9:54 pm |
  11. jarrod

    did anyone here Daschle comment about "do you not go to the doctor because you don't want to pay the bill" MY wife and i found that offensive we have not gone to the doctor becuase we did not want to be harrassed by bill collectors becuase we can't afford to pay the bills and the welfare system is so backwords that they said we made to much last year but they ask only for past thirty days income (which has been none since october) after all the embarrasment to even ask for help from the welfare system they said we could both work 40 hrs per week and they would give us $673 per month for the both of us to work for this money that would not even cover our rent which brings me to my next point HOW DARE THIS GOVERNMENT CONDEM OTHER COUNTRIES FOR SLAVE LABOR when they allow it in our own country.

    I am ASKING CNN to keep them honest about that

    February 3, 2009 at 9:14 pm |
  12. Cristina

    These individuals should ithrown in jail. Give me a break, they didn't know they owed taxes,. supposedly a tax expert does their taxes, is
    this individual also brain dead?.

    Give me a break, if these elected officials are so brain dead they have no business being in office. I bust my butt working and paying taxes. People have to wake up and smell the coffee the unscrupulous and unethical get ahead not the straight eorros that follow the rules. I have had enough!!!!!

    February 3, 2009 at 8:53 pm |
  13. Surafel

    This is very, very sad! Shame to senators.

    February 3, 2009 at 8:37 pm |
  14. Robert Sawyer

    I think this may have been a hard day for Obama but I believe in the long run the Daschle's withdrawal is a good thing for the future of the administration. It was not the man's tax issues or petty theft at stake here, it is the notion of integrity itself. The car and driver were merely symptomatic of a deeper strain of corruption that can not be tolerated, if our message of Change is to be taken seriously.

    If we're going to change the culture of Washington the "revolving door," pay-to-play culture must be torn out. There aren't bad Republican opportunists and good Democrat opportunists. It's my hope that Daschle's withdrawal will frighten away Democrats who have used their "public service" to enrich themselves. I don't begrudge anyone making a fortune, however I prefer they not make it selling access or influence.

    Now, I'd like to see Senator Dodd be a little more forthcoming about his VIP home financing arrangement with Countrywide Financial. And, as a New Yorker, I'd like to hear Charles Rangel admit that he took advantage of his position to take possession of four rent-stabilized apartments. He can take action to correct it and we can move on.

    Obama's election promises so much. But these promises can only be realized if we look at our party with colder eyes than the most partisan Republican.

    February 3, 2009 at 8:29 pm |
  15. Robert Sawyer

    In the interest of full disclosure, I worked for, raised money for, gave money to and voted for President Obama. Saying this, I was not happy with his appointment of Rahm Emanuel. I understand every president needs his Roy Cohn, but Emanuel would not have been my first choice. One reason is my question regarding what services did Emanuel perform for Bruce Wasserstein that were worth $16.5 million dollars, paid over two years. To the best of my knowledge Emanuel has no experience or expertise in Finance (other than political fundraising).
    I don't see how Obama can expect to rein in "Wall Street" if his closest advisors feasted at that trough.

    February 3, 2009 at 8:22 pm |
  16. Carmen

    Daschle had no choice being forced to step down. Now Timothy geithner should withdraw, no creditabilty.

    February 3, 2009 at 7:37 pm |
  17. Dean the tax payer


    How is that the media is not jumping all over the Senator Gregg appointment, the fact that he demands being replaced by another Repub when the governor is a democrat?? This smells like the Blogo incident without asking for money.
    I am from PA and our governor Ed Rendell took his name out of the running for any position in this administration, because he would be replaced by a Repub. That is the honorable thing to do.

    February 3, 2009 at 7:21 pm |
  18. Adrian Schokman

    US needs to look at other countries on how they run their Health care system, example Sri Lanka had been rated as one of the best Health Care sytems in the world by WHO, a simple method of Free Education that have lead the top students become top doctors and a further scholoship to the top doctors to specialise in UK, US, Australia Medical faculties and, once they return as specialised consultants they give their services back to the public, of course it has its positive and Negatives but overall Citizens from Sri Lanka, from a simple Flu to a specialised By pass surgery have accessto a free medical, now that is something the US need to study and see how it could be replicated ....

    February 3, 2009 at 7:10 pm |
  19. robyn caffrey keyser'' west virginia

    yes we can

    February 3, 2009 at 6:39 pm |
  20. robyn caffrey keyser'' west virginia

    att : anderson"

    ya know" tom daschle did resign "" himself"

    that ( means ) so much. he could of got a run for his money like blogovejich though't he would"

    yes we can"

    February 3, 2009 at 6:38 pm |
  21. Larry

    Let's hope Obama & wife have no tax problems; unpaid parking tickets are one thing.

    February 3, 2009 at 6:34 pm |
  22. Rosa Rhett

    Okay, will all tax evaders please stand up. Go through the House and Senate and find everyone ELSE who has "made a mistake" on their taxes. I don't understand why the IRS didn't catch these hundreds of thousands of dollars "mistakes". Something is very, very wrong!!!

    The IRS is hounding me every month (after keeping my $300 stimulus check and $700 tax return last year), all over less than $2000 unpaid taxes, plus interest & penalty for 2002. I've been paying monthly since 2005 when they 1st sent me a bill. I now owe $1286.74, of which $960 is interest and penalty. Forget that I'm retired and unemployed for over 12 months. Something is very wrong!!!
    Atlanta, GA

    February 3, 2009 at 6:32 pm |
  23. dottie

    daschle he will be okay,,,,
    where is the beef,,,?

    February 3, 2009 at 6:30 pm |
  24. dottie

    NO! NO! MR. Daschle is not done! he be okay, and the Health Care Reform will be good as well,but l say to the President there will be some bumps in the roads , if you're knock down get right back up, hold your head up and push On. a seriously note l need you to
    ask Former President Clintons for some advice on picking cabinet
    members, and also you need a little help on your stimulus package.
    l believe he would be glad to help. he also want the best for the Country.
    He can give you a incentives plan and will tell you ,how to make it works.Mr President you are really trying to work with the Republicans your constituents to win their favor,you 're give them your restored and rescued package – , and they are bring up the_ Beefs.and calling your rescued plan a lot of Porks.
    ENough already., where is the BEEF.?complaining grumbling ,and those out dated grouser..

    February 3, 2009 at 6:28 pm |
  25. Sonya

    Just goes to show where our priorties are during this crisis. Not on the experience of Daschle whom can help with our failed healthcare system but on his non paid taxes on a car and a driver. Nobody is perfect.

    February 3, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  26. Terry

    Please Tom Daschle..... your quote is...

    "Daschle had a combination of talents not easy to find in one person–poiltical savvy, connections in Washington, and a thorough knowledge of health care policy"

    He was an unregistered lobbyist.....made over $5 million in the last two years consulting to the pharmaceutical companies,...basically the entire medical world. Conflict of interest perhaps. Guess what ....his wife is a lobbyist.

    I disagree Mr. Cohn......I don't believe they are the ooooonly ones in the wwwwwwworld who were qualified for the jobs. Nor do I believe they are weally…weally….sawwwy....they are sorry they got caught.

    February 3, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  27. Mark

    How many more amnesia tax victims will there be? Believe what you want but this is sad !

    February 3, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  28. Sharon, LA, CA

    I agree with Karen, they should all be audited and regardless of position should get the same treatment the rest of us would get.

    February 3, 2009 at 5:57 pm |
  29. Linda Strasberg

    I am neither bewildered, bothered or betwixt...appalled is more like it... thank you 360 for your timely reporting.

    February 3, 2009 at 5:57 pm |
  30. JOEL

    How do these politicians get away with all this illegal and immoral schemes?! If Joe Blow pulled this crap then I'd be in jail. Who is in charge of tracking Congress and ALL politicians taxes. I suppose that since they work for us then we should get to reveiw their tax forms and if they get caught lying then they should be criminally held and be banned from politics FOR LIFE.

    February 3, 2009 at 5:52 pm |
  31. Pete Oregon

    If the politicians and (Daschle) paid their taxes and medical insurance like you and i do maybe the USA would not be broke.

    February 3, 2009 at 5:47 pm |
  32. carolyn

    Can you people get out of DC for a day ? or is just to hard to go and find a story you sit in your News room report the same thing over and over it has to be shock, or some crazed person in DC not paying tax's which is not News all them don't pay their taxes. we got people in Iowa been flooded out of their homes.
    Get off your ass go to work.


    February 3, 2009 at 5:41 pm |
  33. kent

    "Daschle did the honorable thing....." Since when is not reporting all your income, and then stepping down, "the honorable thing"? And why didn't he step forward before he was exposed?
    Now America is getting to experience the level of corruption and complacency that has engulfed our political system.
    It would also seem the IRS is not doing it's job to bring accountability to politicians and oil companies that owe millions in back taxes.
    Oh, and when you're a middle class tax payer and make an "honest mistake" on your tax return, we get to experience the full pressure of the IRS. Equality?


    February 3, 2009 at 5:39 pm |
  34. Larry

    Didn't the then Senator Obama promise during his campaign to be the democratic nominee for POTUS promise that if americans could not afford a health care plan then he would give them the same health care program that he receives as a United States Senator?

    February 3, 2009 at 5:31 pm |
  35. xtina, chicago IL

    who wakes up the morning and thinks, "Ya know what I need? I need Congress to take over my health care!"

    February 3, 2009 at 5:28 pm |
  36. Karen Good

    OK, So Tom Daschle "did the honorable thing"
    DID HE?

    So he says, oops sorry, I had some "problems" with taxes, so I will withdraw and just go back to the Senate.

    NO, NO, NO.

    He is now a proven tax evader....

    Do these legislators not understand that I, KG, pay the salary. If I were found not paying taxes, I couldn't say, "OOPS, well then I won't go for the promotion, I'll just stay in the job I have and stay on the take."!

    I am appalled at the depth of the improper behavior of our elected officials.

    Audit everyone in the Senate and Congress. Anyone who comes up clean and stay!

    February 3, 2009 at 5:24 pm |
  37. Abel Tsegga

    The Borgen Project has some good info on the cost of addressing global poverty.

    $30 billion: Annual shortfall to end world hunger.
    $550 billion: U.S. Defense budget

    February 3, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  38. JC- Los Angeles

    Unless President Obama installs a massive healthcare oversight committe and then an oversight committe to monitor the oversight committe, the esteemed executives that ran Wall Street into the ground will turn their attention to universal healthcare fraud.

    I can just hear them now: "if it's universal healthcare, then that means it's universal and everyone will have it, therefore, everyone is a potential victim; there's money to be made boys."

    February 3, 2009 at 4:55 pm |
  39. Annie Kate

    I hope health care reform is not done or even stalled for long. I know too many people who need it badly and have for years.

    February 3, 2009 at 4:52 pm |