Saturday, January 31, 2009


Don Klein welcomes you to his world of blogging. On this site you will read and respond to his ramblings and opinions on just about anything. So join in on the fun and mental exercise. It's good for all of us.


Charlie said...

Sounds like a little practice is a good thing for getting the most out of a Blog. It just takes a little getting used to. ~ C

Citizen Klein said...

A free ride right out the door

by Don Klein

There are a lot of differences between Democrats and Republicans but there is one category in which they emulate each other. That is in their sense of privilege and entitlement. The higher their position the greater their arrogance and misplaced embrace of benefits.

To hear them talk there is no higher motivation than to serve the public when all along their goal is to serve themselves and their unbridled greed. They sit on their raised congressional rostrum like modern Caesars and huff and puff in exquisite outrage at the crooks in our society, when they themselves are no better than the worst of the miscreants that testify before congressional committees.

Take Tom Daschle, the eminent former Democratic leader in the Senate who is now the choice of President Obama as the country’s secretary of health and human services. He admitted during his confirmation hearings of failing to pay $140,000 in taxes. Just note: the taxes he avoided is three and a half times the annual salary of American workers in 2007.

The Daschle tax problem emanates from his failure to list as income the benefit he received by the use of a free automobile with chauffeur provided to him by an ardent Democratic Party supporter. In addition, that donor, Leo Hindery, Jr., chairman of the company that runs the regional sports network for the New York Yankees, contributed $52,000 to Daschle from 1997 to 2004.

I can understand a man of means making tax mistakes when filing his annual return. It’s not always easy to keep tract of the myriad of sources of income. But a free car, chauffeur driven yet? Could he possibly have forgotten that? More importantly does he really need that benefit?

You and I drive our own cars. We have no need for chauffeurs. If we made the money Daschle pockets every year we could easily hire a driver and pay for his services out of our own pocket. Not avaricious Tom though.

Just think about it. Here is a man who has earned $2,495,000 plus for providing “policy advice” to a student loan company, more “advice” to United Health, a large insurer, and to a law firm which lobbies Washington. Add to that his Congressional pension accrued to him for 26 years of service, probably is more than $100,000 a year. Does a person with those financial resources really need someone to provide him with a free automobile and driver for his convenience?

Also, his wife, Linda Hall, is a former FAA official in the Clinton administration and currently is a successful Washington lobbyist. Then there is Daschle’s son, Nathan, who is executive director of the Democratic Governors’ Association. Don’t you think Daddy’s party connection had something to do with that job?

Talk about feeding at the public trough. That’s what I mean about privilege and entitlement. It is just another way to define insatiable greed.

Years ago when I covered Congress there was a senator from Maryland by the name of Daniel Brewster. He lived in an estate in a posh suburb of Baltimore where horse breeders abounded. To put it simply, Brewster never had a real job in his life but was a millionaire. He inherited tons of money. He was born with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth, yet he couldn’t resist political greed. He left the Senate after a short period because he took bribes, which compared to his family fortune, were a pittance.

That was a previous case of greed and oblivious arrogance.

Daschle was not born to wealth but found it readily available when he attained congressional power. He was the first in his South Dakota family to attend college and was elected to the House of Representatives in 1977. He became a senator eight years later where he served as Democratic leader for 10 years ending in 2004.

With that background there is no excuse for him accepting free transportation from a wealthy booster. He knew better. When Daschle was defeated in 2004, John Thune, his GOP opponent accused him of becoming a creature of Washington. Events proved Thune correct.

The sad part of this story, besides the stupidity of a man of means accepting transportation goodies from a backer who certainly hoped to cash in on his relationship through Daschle’s connections and potential later role in government, is that he would even be consider by President Obama for a cabinet position.

Another Obama backer, Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, was rewarded for his early indorsement with an appointment as secretary of commerce. He had to withdraw because of a probe of questionable propriety in his state. Shouldn’t Daschle do the same for his questionable personal judgment?

To the contrary, Sen. Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, affirmed his support for his old friend and Robert Gibbs, the president’s press secretary, predicted with delight that Daschle “will be confirmed.” Daschle’s early support made him an Obama darling. It had been suggested that if Rahm Emanuel had not accepted Obama’s offer to be his chief of staff the job would have gone to Daschle. Whew, that was close!

It is nothing new to be shocked by the misbehavior of people chosen to represent us in high positions nor of their willingness to be corrupted by wealthy contributors. We had sexual deviates in Congress as well as a candidate for the Supreme Court. We had presidents who had paramours furtively sneaked into the White House. We have government leaders hiding thousands of dollars in freezers and governors ready to sell appointments to high office to the highest bidders.

Finally we have a president who we all hope will correct those social and public aberrations in government, who is trying his best to form a clean government, and along comes one of his top choices who proved to be dumb enough to sell himself in the form of political concubinage to a sponsor for a few pieces of gold that he didn’t really need in the first place.

Tom Daschle should save the president the trouble of dumping him (as Richardson did) by withdrawing immediately. He is more than a tax dodger, he has behaved arrogantly with the kind of greed that makes him unacceptable to further serve the American people. We all need good leaders, not someone who feels so entitled that he demeans himself for an unnecessary aggregation of free rides.


trangesr said...

Dear Sage,

Just signed on. Looks like much fun