In the wake of revelations about his tax oversights and industry ties, the New York Times is calling on Tom Daschle to step aside and let Barack Obama pick a “less-blemished” Health and Human Services secretary. Daschle’s $128,000 tax lapse dwarfs even Tim Geithner’s. “The American tax system depends heavily on voluntary compliance,” the editorial argues, and waving through two tax evaders “would send a terrible message.”
Daschle’s ties to major health industry players are even more troubling. Though technically not a registered lobbyist, “Daschle is another in a long line of politicians who move cozily between government and industry.” Lobbyists have paid Daschle more than $2 million in recent years, and he’s provided policy advice to UnitedHealth Group, which could throw a cloud over health care reform. “Mr. Daschle could clear the atmosphere by withdrawing his name,” the Times concludes.