Change We Can Believe In: Addendum & Erratum
Addendum: because the story seems to have no ending; report the story one week, and more arises the next. Erratum, because of a substantial error I made.
Error first: I reported that Tom Daschle, nominated to head the Department of Health & Human Services, “forgot $100,000 of income reporting”. Wrong. Mr. Daschle, former U. S. Senator from South Dakota, failed to pay $140,176 of taxes and penalties, for late payments he owed.
To generate that much tax, the income he failed to report would have been over $400,000. At least he had the graciousness to withdraw, in spite of the fact that President Barack Obama said this “forgetfulness” would not disqualify him.
Just a couple of days before he withdrew, the president said he “absolutely” was committed to Senator Daschle for the appointment. “So tax avoidance is justified as long as you are saving mankind.” (WSJ 2/4/09)
Mr. Daschle only made $5.2 million after he left the Senate, poor boy, with no background whatsoever in law, business, or finance, or anything other than politics. It is wonderful to realize the American Dream and become rich and famous, but is that the right thing as an outgrowth of politics?
He is not registered as a lobbyist, but was affiliated with lobbying firms and curried political favors – he just did not meet the technical definition enacted by his compatriots in Congress. Those insiders do look after themselves and each other.
This all would be just normal politics in Chicago, and it now appears, normal in Washington.
The Leon Pinetta story keeps on changing: I can’t keep up. It has more tentacles than an octopus. Mr. Pinetta, who was a Republican before he was a Democrat, says he changed because the R’s veered too far to the right.
After rising in the party, where he was director of Management and Budget under President William J. Clinton, and then Bill’s chief of staff. He was nominated by President Obama to become director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
This man, praised for his dedication to public service, raked in $700,000 in “consulting” and speaking fees during last year. He got $84,000 from Merrill Lynch and Wachovia in October, while they just happened to be fishing for bailout money from taxpayers. Just a coincidence; just like hot August days in Florida are coincidences.
The others who paid him handsomely are ones who benefit from government largess. Never mind, Mr. Obama has chosen him, and that makes it all okay – just part of Change You Can Count On, and Hope. Right. Blogovian. (Or is Blogojevitian?)
Then there is Charles Rangel, member of Congress from New York. He is a piece of work all unto himself. He has been around Congress a long time and knows all the ropes and which strings to pull. He is under investigation by the Congressional Ethics Committee for ethics violations, in particular with regards to favorable financing on two houses he bought.
If committee work can be compared to animals, the Ethics Committee is a sloth. It never seems to come to any conclusion. Representative Rangel joined the ranks of those who failed to pay taxes due, in this case on rental income on his villa in the Dominican Republic. There is more, and more.
Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, pledged in her last campaign to “drain the swamp” of corruption in Congress when Democrats won the majority. The drains must be clogged, Nancy. Or does your swamp statement not apply to Democrats?
An unfortunate effect of all this shady dealing and corruption; of this tax evasion, of the Chicago school of Blogovian politics, is that it paints with a tar brush those in public service who are honest, moral, honorable citizens, which I believe is true of a majority of our public servants.
Obviously, we voters need to correct these abuses of power and privilege. Some citizens run for public office because they have strong convictions about changes they think need to be made in governance or in laws, or just to take their turn in serving in public office, even at a sacrifice.
Others relish being in the spotlight and enjoy the special privileges conferred on those in office. Still others seek power, and more power (like Hitler, Castro, and Chavez). And there are some who do it because it opens gates to making a fortune, either while in office, or later, as a result of the fame and power gained in office. I am afraid those cited in this and the previous Tentacle piece are in the categories of spotlight, wealth and power.
What can we taxpayers do to eliminate Blogovian, Chicago style, wealth seeking political habits?