Feb 3 (Reuters) - The nomination of former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle to head the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is in dispute because of his failure to pay $140,000 in taxes on time and his connections to Washington lobbyists.
Some U.S. newspapers say if President Barack Obama is intent on ethics reform in Washington, Daschle should not get the job. Here is a sampling of editorials on the issue:
* INDIANAPOLIS STAR
“No need to fumble for words that sum up the stew of hypocrisy, arrogance and insiderism that is the unfolding saga of Tom Daschle. This is the audacity of audacity ...
“Daschle isn’t indispensable. But he is indefensible.”
* THE NEW YORK TIMES
“We believe that Mr. Daschle ought to step aside and let the president choose a less-blemished successor ...
“Mr. Daschle is another in a long line of politicians who move cozily between government and industry. We don’t know that his industry ties would influence his judgments on health issues, but they could potentially throw a cloud over health care reform. Mr. Daschle could clear the atmosphere by withdrawing his name.
* THE WASHINGTON POST
“Mr. Daschle deserves to be judged also on the basis of his long career in public service and his knowledge of and interest in health-care reform. Ordinary Americans who pay their taxes may well wonder why Mr. Obama can’t find Cabinet secretaries who do the same. But if Mr. Obama still wants Mr. Daschle in the job, and he said yesterday that he does, based on the record known so far he’s entitled to have him.”
* THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER
“Surely President Obama can find qualified people to serve in his cabinet who aren’t hustling to write overdue checks to the IRS ...
“Daschle’s error is too serious to ignore; it should disqualify him from serving in the cabinet.”
* SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE
“Does anyone important in Washington pay taxes? Or is that civic duty - like jury duty or serving in the military - now something that only the “little people” in America, those without deep pockets and connections, do?
“Tom Daschle is the latest Obama appointee to make the American middle class feel like suckers ...
“Daschle, for all of his experience and knowledge of health care, has disqualified himself from this important position because of his own personal greed. The Senate should reject his nomination.”
* CHICAGO TRIBUNE
“So why is Obama determined to stick with Daschle despite his embarrassing record of non-compliance with the tax laws? ...
“Contrary to what the president seems to think, the administration can succeed without his services. Obama might keep in mind the wisdom of Charles de Gaulle, who noted that the graveyards are full of indispensable men.” (Compiled by Bill Trott; Editing by David Storey)
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