Daschle’s Dance Is Over

February 4, 2009

in Politics

A Great Dancer - A Master Of The Side-StepAll of the talking heads are telling us what a great guy Tom Daschle is. I guess it depends on your perspective.

I think Obama was generally being honest (at least as honest as can be expected in Washington) when he told us of his desire to keep lobbyists out of his administration. There are other considerations, however. As the former Senate leader of the Democrats he was crucial in getting more of his colleagues to support Obama than Hillary. In certain circumstances loyalty is a virtue – but not in this one.

Most people are targeting Daschle’s little tax faux pas. One cannot help but remember Leona Helmsley’s comment that only the ‘little’ people pay taxes. Daschle seems to be only one of many ‘big’ people who inadvertently fail to pay their taxes. He has made at least $5 million since leaving office. From my perspective that puts him in the big category.

He would appear to be somewhat less than fully transparent in handling this matter. He knew of the problem at least as early as last June but failed to pay his due until push came to shove. Knowing of the problem when he did, why did he wait a month after his nomination before telling the transition people? While I consider such behavior disqualifying, it is not my major concern with regard to Tom.

In addition to being a skilled dancer, Tom is a healthcare industry whore. The bulk of his income since leaving office comes from the very industry he would have been expected to battle in order to reform the system. Regardless of how nice a person his colleagues might consider him to be, how much trust can he engender in his relations with the industry that has buttered his bread for all these years?

Obama gave himself an out by holding on to the possibility of giving waivers to certain friends. There may be situations where a waiver is understandable but they are, or should be, rare and very carefully considered. Adding Daschle’s lobbying to his failure to be transparent about his tax problem, he fails to meet any criterion Obama should be imposing as qualification for that rare waiver.

Several names have been floated as alternative nominees. Howard Dean apparently doesn’t have tax or lobbying problems. He does have a problem in his relationship to the administration, particularly Rahm Emanuel. Bill Bradley would likely need no waiver.

Oregon’s former governor, John Kitzhaber, is another name that has been mentioned. These three have credentials that Congressmen would likely feel appropriate. Other names, such as Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell and Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, are out there but, while possibly able, don’t appear to have all of the credentials one might desire.

My own governor, here in Tennessee, is Phil Bredesen. While he appears to be a dark horse, my concern is that he became a multi-millionaire by being a skilled player in the system he would need to challenge.

Universal healthcare, or a reasonable facsimile, is Obama’s stated goal. While superficially commendable, it is far from adequate to our national needs. There is no rational systemic reform that fails to be based on the single-payer paradigm.

When I have a little free time I will explore the position of each of the mentioned potential nominees. At present I do not know whether any of these people support a single-payer system. There may be one or two that do hold that position but I would not be surprised if none of them do.

A single-payer system, such as Medicare For All, would be the biggest political fight in anyone’s memory. It would take an exceptionally strong point man and total support by the President and the Democratic Party. I see neither on the horizon. Anything less than a single-payer system will only delay the elemental and crucial changes required.

Crawford Harris - Polymath



{ 1 comment }

Ed February 4, 2009 at 1:17 pm

Good article. Being a basically lazy person, I’ll look forward to seeing what you find out about the position of each of the mentioned potential replacement nominees.

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