Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Taxes and Little People

Perhaps no one person reveals the disconnect between the Beltway and the rest of the United States more than Tom Daschle. Whether he is confirmed as Health and Human Services Secretary may tell us a great deal as to whether the former retains even a modicum of concern for the latter.

Mr. Daschle, once the Senate Minority Leader and still the husband of a prominent Washington lobbyist, was famously turned out by the voters of his state, who decided that he was more in touch with D.C. power brokers than with the people of South Dakota. His nomination for a key role in the Obama administration has been at least delayed, and possibly derailed, by the revelation that he failed to pay over $100,000 in taxes owed the federal government. That is not the kind of mistake that ordinary people are used to making and getting by with, but it might be the sort of thing that Washington insiders wink and nod about, as long as it doesn't make the newspapers. Normal people complain about taxes, but pay them. Washington insiders, in this instance, advocate taxes, and then avoid paying them.

Unfortunately for Mr. Daschle, it has made the newspapers, and a lot of blogs for good measure, but Mr. Daschle remains one of the most connected people in Washington, and those to whom he is connected for the most part would just as soon let him get by with it if they can. What's $100,000 in tax evasion among friends?

Do the attitudes and cultural values of middle America still matter? The Daschle confirmation will tell us a great deal.

Update. It was obviously this post that did him in.


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