Tuesday, February 03, 2009


While I'm a bit disappointed that Judd Gregg is being replaced by a Republican, I still have no fundamental problem with the appointment. Commerce is an almost meaningless agency (really, if we wanted to save money by cutting a large agency, it seems like Commerce is the place to start. You could merge a lot of its functions back into Treasury) and it eliminates a popular Republican senator in a Democratic state. This opens up the seat to a much easier Democratic takeover in 2010 and forces the Republicans to defend yet another tough open seat (along with Florida, Ohio, Missouri, and Kansas if Sebelius runs).

That said, I still don't understand Obama's bipartisanship. It's obvious that the Republicans are not going to play along. Still, for positions this meaningless, why not.

On the other hand, I'm really disgusted by the high number of appointees who haven't paid their taxes. Given that I think a Democratic government needs to make the argument that taxes are a good thing and that we should pay more of them for needed social services, appointing so many people with tax problems is not a good message. I would have no problem if Daschle were forced to withdraw his nomination; Howard Dean would make a perfectly good Secretary of Health and Human Services. I see that Nancy Killefer withdrew her nomination for Chief Performance Officer for the same reason. Clearly Obama wasn't going to expend political capital to defend a nominee of lesser importance.

But Obama needs to send the message (or the Senate if not Obama) that not paying your taxes is completely unacceptable. To me, this is a reminder of how Democrats joined Republicans in an all-out grab for money and orgy of greed in the last 30 years. How can we trust the Democrats to reinstate necessary regulations on industry and finance and lead the nation away from the policies of Reagan and Bush if they so clearly embraced that creed?

Update: And Daschle withdraws. It's too bad--I think he would have made a good health care czar. On the other hand, pay your fucking taxes.