To paraphrase Casey Stengel, "Can't anyone here get their tax returns right?"
The apparent answer is a big, fat "no." And that inability has ended the Cabinet hopes of two Obama appointees.
Tom Daschle has withdrawn his nomination to head the Department of Health and Human Services. The decision came as both lawmakers and the public continued to question how he neglected to claim all his income, including the value of a chauffeur-driven car, on his returns. There also were some improper charitable tax deductions involved.
Although Daschle, a former Democratic Senator from South Dakota, made good on his tax bill, albeit much after the original transgression, the baggage was just too much.
But even before Dashcle withdrew his name, a previous Obama appointee also dropped out.
Perfomance officer out, too: Nancy Killefer had been tapped as the nation's first Chief Performance Officer. Her job would have been to make sure government offices operated as efficiently as possible.
As I blogged when the Killefer announcement was made, she brought with her IRS skills and a nanny tax past.
Because of her failure to pay the tax for household help back in 2005, Killefer had a lien placed on her house by the D.C. government. She took care of the tax bill back then, but it made news again when her appointment was announced.
Even with that tax oversight, Killefer got high praise from former tax staff and IRS employees with whom she had worked.
Today, however, Killefer issued a two-paragraph letter indicating that controversy over the tax troubles of Daschle and new Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner persuaded her to decline the Obama appointment.
As for Geithner, he had the luxury of having his dirty tax laundry aired first. That, along with the fact (mentioned in this blog item) that the economic situation demanded the Treasury post be filled fast, worked in his favor.
So where do we go? All of these situations bring us back to Casey's question and it's followups.
The Obama appointee tax troubles are just the latest to roil Capitol Hill. Such instances have cropped up in several administrations.
Should such tax failures, even if corrected, either well before the appointment or soon after it's made, automatically disqualify a person from serving in the government?
And if so many otherwise wel qualified people have such issues, will we ever be able to find enough "clean" folks who have the knowledge and skills to fill the jobs?