What an eventful day yesterday was! Here's a tiny summary of some of the days more newsworthy events, along with my patent commentary that you've come to love:
Two of President Obama's cabinet choices withdrew their names from Senate consideration today due to tax problems. Nancy Killefer, the President's choice for government CPO cited her tax problems related to the hiring of "household help" as the reason for her withdrawal from consideration for the post. Although Ms. Killefer's tax liabilities are miniscule compared to that of say Mr. Geither's or Mr. Daschle's, and although the vetting team was reportedly aware of her tax issues, because of the aforementioned gentlemen and their penchant for evading the IRS, the President's chief performance officer was left with no choice but to withdraw rather than draw the ire of a Senate who dutifully overlooked Geither's trangressions.
The next would-be cabinet member to fall was Mr. Daschle, who withdrew his name from consideration for the post of Health and Human Services Secretary around 12:30 PM today. Mr. Daschle's failure to pay back taxes on a car we received from a wealthy donor amounted to a $100,000+ mistake that was apparently impermissable by the already generous Senate. In addition to this tax oversight, Mr. Daschle's private sector dealings within the health industry raised questions of impropriety about a man selected to lead the Obama Administration's health care reform initiative. Mr. Daschle's withdrawal, though not without good reason, nevertheless surprised many Democratic and Republican Senators who believed the administration would still put up a fight.
My question is, do any of these nominees, who are all fairly wealthy, have lawyers who can do their taxes for them? H & R Block? TurboTax (though that didn't work out so well for Secretary Geithner).
As my colleague Adam Beck points out, althought Daschle's loss is the biggest blow to the administration's cabinet formation since the withdrawal of Gov. Bill Richardson for Commerce, the President still has a number of qualified individuals to chose from to head the DHHS. As Mr. Beck points out, Dr. Howard Dean would be a wonderfully qualified candidate, and any inevitable political hiccups that will plague his nomination hearings would be muted by a Democratic majority. I suggested Ezekiel Emmanuel, Rahm's brother, a respected bioethicist. But of course, that wouldn't be kosher.
During a sit down interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper yesterday, the President acknowledged some of his administration's recent stumbles and offered My Bad:
"I made a mistake...I screwed up, and I take responsibility for it," said the President, referring to the Daschle firestorm. "Ultimately, I campaigned on changing Washington and bottom-up politics. And I don't want to send a message to the American people that there are two sets of standards: one for powerful people and one for ordinary folks who are working every day and paying their taxes."
The President did not apologize for originally choosing Daschle, who he still believes is "better-equipped" than anybody to "deal both with the substance and policy of health care."
Whaaa??? I'm sorry, did the President of the United States just admit, A MISTAKE? This must be unprecedented. I have never heard of such a thing. Afterall, any time the previous presidents made mistakes, they would hint at it, maybe stare at it but never acknowledge it, sometimes sending out their press secretaries to take the flak while they hid behind the Resolute.
But surely they would never blatantly admit to a mistake. That's crazy talk. Any President who plays it straight with the American people isn't a leader, he's a novice.
The weakling "forgive me" president also told Cooper that the fast-deteriorating economy is what keeps him up at night "literally."
The President also talked about the stimulus package in good detail, and also spoke about the War on Terror and whether or not that term should be used anymore (it shouldn't, and he agrees). Cooper's interview is fantastic, and you can watch it below:
Senator John McCain (R-AZ) has officially come out in opposition to the Senate's stimulus plan backed by the President, saying in an e-mail sent to his campaign list, “I cannot and do not support the package on the table from the Democrats and the Obama Administration. Our country does not need just another spending bill, particularly not one that will load future generations with the burden of massive debt. We need a short term stimulus bill that will directly help people, create jobs, and provide a jolt to our economy.”
Despite the fact that Democrats in both chambers have been open to and have utilized several good ideas offered by the minority party during the stimulus debate, such as more tax cuts and the removal of "non-stimulating" provisions (which amounted to less than 1% of the entire bill. Talk about cherrypicking), and despite the fact that the President and his administration have held multiple high and mid-level meetings with GOP leadership and members, Sen. McCain and the Republicans in Congress continue to claim that this bill was entirely drafted by Democrats who have paid no heed to the sage advice of the minority. This is simply not true. The majority party of Congress and the White House have listened and continue to listen to the legitimate concerns of the minority and have implemented many of their suggestions. Where the majority will not negotiate and will not budge (and certainly they have earned the right to be able to draw the line) is where Republicans call foul. Sorry fellas, but we won.
Fresh off his stint in Sderot reporting on the Gaza War, claiming that reporters shouldn't be allowed to cover wars, and subsequently covering the war, Samuel Joseph "the Plumber" Wurzelbacher has got himself another undeserved title: political consultant. Yesterday morning, members of the Conservative Working Group held their weekly strategy session with Republican Hill staffers during which special guest Joe offered his thoughts on the stimulus bill: he's against it.
I'm glad the Republican Party is taking his advice. I mean, it worked so well for them the first time around, right?
Til next time dancers. Go get dry.