Administration Is Described as Being at a Loss
‘There Were No Other Names,’ Ally Says
By Ceci Connolly
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 4, 2009; A09
Long before the Senate had a chance to consider his nomination to be secretary of health and human services, Thomas A. Daschle was hard at work pressing President Obama’s signature domestic policy goal of revamping the U.S. health system.
In private sessions in Washington and town hall-style meetings beyond the Beltway, the former Senate majority leader was assembling a team of experts, cajoling special interests and mobilizing grass-roots support for an ambitious overhaul.
Yesterday, Daschle withdrew his name after acknowledging he paid $146,000 in back taxes and interest.
Now Obama must forge ahead without his close friend and Washington mentor, a setback that health experts across the political spectrum described yesterday as serious but not insurmountable.
“I think Tom Daschle would have been the best person to help shepherd through a health-care bill through a very difficult process in Congress,” Obama said on ABC News. “I regret the fact that he’s not going to be serving, but we’re going to move forward.”
. . . “Senator Daschle had two things going for him that were very formidable characteristics,” said Robert E. Moffit, director of the Center for Health Policy Studies at the conservative Heritage Foundation. “He was a leader in the U.S. Senate, a member of the club, and he was probably one of the most knowledgeable people in health policy. For the Obama administration, that was a powerful tactical weapon.”
And Bob Moffit’s opinion comes from the conservative side of the issue. That alone gives some idea of just how terrified big pharma must have been over shooting down this candidate.
When I read that Daschle emerged from a closed-door meeting with legislators “ashen-faced and grim,” I knew the fix was in. This is a guy who had unprecedented support on both sides of the isle. Clearly, someone had cranked up the music and sent in the clowns–Senators on the healthcare lobbyists’ payroll.
So, as more and more Americans go without any insurance at all, these bold Senators (who enjoy a gold-plated, Senate provided health benefit) have shot down the best man for the job over a tax ‘scandal’ that involves a donated limousine.
Senate ethics rides again–“by god, there ain’t gonna be anythin’ improper goin’ on in these here chambers.”
These same Senators had absolutely no problem with the ethical smell of Tom DeLay, Newt Gingrich and Jack Abramoff. No wonder Daschle, who had served as both minority and majority leader in the Senate, was ashen-faced.
It’s hard to be thrown to the wolves by clowns.