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Roundtable on Daschle's Taxes

Roundtable on Daschle's Taxes

FOX News Special Report With Brit Hume - February 2, 2009

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM DASCHLE, HHS SECRETARY-DESIGNATE: The Obama administration has put a very high standard on public service. The American people have high expectations for those of us who serve the public good. That's especially true when it comes to taxes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: Former Senator, now Health and Human Services Secretary- designate, Tom Daschle up on Capitol Hill just a few moments ago defending himself for not paying his taxes, something he said was "unintentional, deeply embarrassing, and disappointing."

We are back with the panel. Mort, is this a major problem for Tom Daschle?

KONDRACKE: I don't think so, in the end. It's a huge embarrassment following on the Tim Geithner affair. This is much more. Tim Geithner had to pay back $34,000, I believe. This is $140,000, basically because he had a car and driver. I'm amazed that a car and drive in 2007 cost $93,000.

BAIER: It's also consulting work that--

KONDRACKE: But the consulting work was a mistake, apparently, on his employer's part on the 1099. And the truth is that he did not get a 1099 form, a tax form from the people who provided him with the car and driver that included the money.

Now, he was used to be driven around by a chauffeur when he was a Senate Leader, and he may have thought, well this is the way it works. There is no evidence here of purposeful evasion of taxes. And I don't think he will get denied of this job.

After all, there's one former senator in all of U.S. history who came up for confirmation and has been denied--John Tower, nominee for Secretary of Defense, who was an alcoholic, or allegedly an alcoholic, and a womanizer, and he would have had his finger somewhere close to the button.

I think Tom Daschle is too admired to be not confirmed.

BAIER: White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs did say a number of times it was a serious mistake today from the podium.

EASTON: Yes. But the Senate club, as Mort indicated, is going to take care of its own.

What I find most interesting is as you step back, I do think this is a moment where the zeitgeist in Washington is beginning to change, not only from the liberal left blogosphere, who is attacking him for taking speaking fees from industries that he is going to regulate in healthcare, but, secondly, from the press, because what you didn't see from the Robert Gibbs interchange was how drilled Gibbs was by reporters, who kept saying "Well, is there any amount of back taxes that is too much? I thought you were going to change the way that Washington works."

He really had a very different press briefing today, and I think that has sort of taking the bloom off the rose of this reformist, outsider president who came to town.

KRAUTHAMMER: I agree. I think, look, Democrats are the ones who preached all of last year that paying high taxes is patriotic. Well, only if you pay them.

And the other -- it was Jim DeMint, the senator from South Carolina, who said that of course Democrats like higher taxes. They all know that in the end they aren't going to pay them.

With Daschle--it might have been unintentional, but it's hardly as if he was lent a pickup on Saturday night to take his date to a movie. This is a year -- two years with a Cadillac and a driver.

But the real loser here--Daschle will be confirmed. The loser is Obama. He doesn't walk on water. He is not the guy who is going to reform America.

And with all of these -- the Geithner affair, Bill Richardson, and now the nonpayment of taxes with Daschle, the sheen on the clean Obama administration is already off.

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FOX News Special Report With Brit Hume

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