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Dump Daschle – Howard Dean for Health and Human Services

Tom Daschle, President Obama’s pick to run the sprawling Department of Health and Human Services, also has some tax issues:

filed amended tax returns for 2005, 2006 and 2007 to reflect additional
income for consulting work, the use of a car service and reduced
deductions for charitable contributions. He filed the returns after Obama announced he intended to nominate Daschle to head the Health and Human Services Department.

of the additional taxes resulted from unreported income from the use of
a car service provided him by a close friend and business associate, Leo Hindery Jr. The unreported income for that service totaled more than $250,000 over three years.


also had unreported consulting income of $88,333, in 2007. He also had
reductions to charitable contributions totaling about $15,000 over the
three years covered, according to the Senate Finance Committee document. The document, marked “Confidential Draft,” is a committee statement concerning Daschle’s nomination.

The White House insists that this “stupid mistake” won’t derail the nomination, as does the Democratic leadership. But given that Obama’s (self-imposed, strictest in history) lobbyist rules are also getting bent a bit, the tax flap is giving critics of the Administration plenty of ammunition to gleefully play with. Going to bat for Daschle invites a lot of distraction from the aggressive domestic agenda that Obama seeks to implement, and Daschle (a veteran Senator with many post-Senate “consulting” affiliations and other associations) may simply have too much baggage to be effective in pushing that agenda through. The sheen of technocratic comptence that is so critical to building popular support for bold policy starts to wear thin when your Cabinet picks keep making “stupid mistakes” (direct quote from an unnamed White House upper-up).


What was Daschle’s qualification for HHS, anyway? I am aware of his legislative record and policy expertise, but Daschle remains firmly within the old guard of the Democratic Party, the same generation as John Kerry (whose nomination for president didn’t exactly light a fire under America’s collective consciousness). It’s great to have the grizzled voices of experience and senior expertise in the diplomatic sphere (which is why I applaud the choice of Holbrooke and Mitchell as envoys – under Secretary Clinton’s direction). But in terms of executive leadership, we need new blood.

The argument for Howard Dean as Secretary of Health and Human Services is quite straightforward. He’s a medical doctor, and has more executive experience than anyone else in Congress or the White House. In his six terms as Governor of Vermont he paid off the state’s public debt, expanded health insurance for children, lowered taxes, signed civil unions into law, and delivered a balanced budget every year. And of course as Chairman of the DNC he implemented the 50-state strategy that gave Obama the foundation for victory.


The only reason Dean wasn’t tapped for HHS outright? Rahm Emmanuel, who bitterly opposed the 50-state strategy that brought his new boss to victory. As I mentioned earlier, Dean’s name was excluded from consideration quite early on, citing Dean’s “partisan background” and lack of congressional experience. That argument is total nonsense – and applies far more to Daschle than it does to Dean anyway. 

It’s time to acknowledge that Howard Dean is the right choice for HHS.

  • Taha Raja

    Howard Dean IS the logical choice. In fact, I was also surprised that they are not tapping into his obvious skils considering Obama has healthcare as a central piece of his campaign promises.
    If Rahm Emanuel does not like Dean, then Obama should instruct his shorty staff to get off his partisan / petty issues with Dean and acknoweldge that Dean is the best choice and make the right choice.

  • Your Name

    The moonbats bark thrice at midnight.
    Soon, my brothers.

  • Dan NYC

    Howard Dean? Only 11 days since the inauguration and the Democrats have already reached the bottom of the barrel.

  • Sheila in PA

    Who better to make the case for universal early childhood coverage? Who better to mobilize nation-wide support for a bill? Who’s more deserving of a role in an administration made possible by his vision and tireless work. Who is cleaner than Howard Dean?

  • Mickey

    We sure are seeing every crook and blood-sucking leech crawl into the Obama administration in record time. This latest “stupid mistake” seems to be the democrat mantra. I have to wonder if the IRS would let me get away with “oh I didn’t know I had to pay taxes” which is code for if I’m a politician there’s no need to follow the rules.
    I have an idea, since the Democrat Majority in Congress over the last two years and now the total dictatorship have caused the problems in order to, as Reid would say, “pick up seats” and power in the 2008 election. Spending bills and anti business and energy restrictions have choked Americans.
    I think it’s time to hold them responsible and do it now. They would have been tar and feathered and run out of town on a rail in the olden days or worse. Perhaps we can’t do that but we can demand that the raise increase be repealed. Salary, benefits, pensions, and staffers cut immediately. Every dime spent or projected must be open for public comment since these people have shown themselves NOT to represent the country. NO NEW SPENDING and while we’re at it, start impeachment proceedings for a president that is either over his head(incompendent) or an enemy of this country (treason).

  • Bad

    “And of course as Chairman of the DNC he implemented the 50-state strategy that gave Obama the foundation for victory.”
    That’s the hype, but not anywhere near the reality. Obama’s people put together precisely the sort of 50-state strategy that Dean ineffectually FAILED to put together. No one inside Dem politics thinks Dean did a bang up job at the DNC. His fundraising wasn’t very good, and his 50 state program didn’t end up accomplishing much of anything substantive, for all the money spent. There’s a reason why he’s not staying on.

  • Ainslie

    Let’s unpack this piece of nonsense:
    “That’s the hype, but not anywhere near the reality. ”
    It is indeed the reality. The 50-state strategy survived its first test in the 2006 midterms.
    “Obama’s people put together precisely the sort of 50-state strategy that Dean ineffectually FAILED to put together.”
    Many of Obama’s people had worked on Dean’s presidential campaign. Everything Obama did had its roots in Dean’s campaign, right down to the name “Obama for America.”
    “No one inside Dem politics thinks Dean did a bang up job at the DNC.”
    Of course you details to back this up and will offer them soon. The DNC members think very, very highly of him, as evidenced at the winter meeting a couple of weeks ago.
    “His fundraising wasn’t very good, and his 50 state program didn’t end up accomplishing much of anything substantive, for all the money spent.”
    His fundraising was spectacular and departed from prior practice. Whereas before, all the money raised in the states went back to the DNC, under Dean, money raised in the states stayed in the states. Didn’t end up accomplishing anything substantive? Alaska now has a Democratic senator, for one example.
    “There’s a reason why he’s not staying on.”
    He said as much. Dean was always clear about serving one term as chairman. He also knows that being chairman when there’s a Democratic president is a very different job.
    Next time, try using some facts instead of making something up.

  • FWilliam

    I think every Democrat in Congress should be audited by the IRS.

  • Kathleen Keenan-Takagi

    Dean is the right choice to send a message that HHS will serve the citizens, not the health care “industry”. How do you industrialize health care?
    Dean is knowledgeable, capable of running a complex organization and open to creative solutions. AND NOT CRAVEN BEFORE ENTRENCHED GROUPS.
    But don’t tell me- tell your local party chairman. your Senator and your Congressional Rep.

  • Elroy Jetson

    Full disclosure…I’m a conservative.
    But I want to say that Aziz has made a great suggestion. I do have a lot of respect for Dr. Dean and how he steered the DNC over the last few years. Add to that the fact that he is a doctor who was also governor makes him a solid pick for HHS.
    President Obama wants to chuck government programs that don’t work, doesn’t he? Dr. Dean is more than qualified to do just that. Daschle is a crony pick. He should be thrown under the bus.

  • Common Sense

    Gee, except for Bad, everybody on this thread makes complete, well-argued sense.
    Getting so used to a car and driver that you don’t think of it as special is just a little too corporate for my taste. I would imagine Tom doesn’t have to dig into the seat cushions for his co-pay either. He might make a great advisor on getting health care through the senate, but he’s not the leader we need.

  • Alan K. Henderson

    I thought the 57-state strategy got Obama elected :-)

  • Michael A. Lawson

    Truer Words Have Never Been. Dr. Howard Dean led the way for the 50-state strategy and needs to be given a slot in the administration that can help shape the future of Health in this country, HHS Secretary.

  • BPG

    Dr. Tom Coburn is far more qualified than either of those two partisan hacks to run HHS. Why not him? Oh, wait…(R).

  • Scott Bowen

    I agree 100 percent. Howard Dean has been a loyal solder for the Dmocartic party ever since his defeat in the 2004 primaries. He has done nothing except advance the causes we so deely believe in, and in return he has been disrespected at every turn.

  • carrie sheridan

    Howard Dean was the OBVIOUS choice with executive experience, re-elected many times,with Real Results in health care and the right resolution with “civil unions” –
    it is TIME for the criterion for appointments to be Who Is A TRUE Statesman? there are so few –
    howard dean
    george mitchell
    chaka fatah
    sherrod brown
    we will NEVER get more of these until they start being the Successful Ones who Triumph over The Usual Suspects/Insider-Players…

  • Beverly P

    I hope someone forwards a petition to be signed, asking that Howard Dean be chosen for Health Secretary. Not only is he well qualified for the position, his contribution to the Party has been shamefully underacknowledged. If there is anything to bad blood between him and Rahm E., the onus is on Rahm in my humble opinion.

  • Shirley Martin

    As a former Vermont State employee during his administration, I stand firmly behind Governor Dean as HHS Secretary. His record speaks for itself. Give ’em hell, Howard!

  • grannyannie

    Howard Dean has always been my choice for Secretary of Health.
    I was very disappointed that Daschle was President Obama’s choice.
    Let us hope that Dashle’s withdrawal will prompt our President to appoint him. I refuse to believe that Rahm Emmanuel will prevent the president from doing what is right!
    I emailed the Whitehouse this morning. HOPE OTHERS WILL DO THE SAME.

  • Tom Jackson

    I think Howard would be a great Health and Human Services Secretary in “Iowa, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kansas – Yeeeeeooooo…..”

  • Your Name

    Howard Dean is the obvious best choice for Secretary of Health and Human Services. His record as governor of Vermont is exemplary, and his accomplishments, fiscally, in health care, and his ability to work with many, disparate elements and factions is unarguable. In a long and distinguished span of executive experience, he proved himself steady and reliable, appropriatively innovative, honest, and sensible. In his work as head of the DNC, his ability to ‘think outside the box’ ripened, and he, more than any other I believe, has given us back the Democratic Party; yet he can work ‘across the aisle’ as well. Who better than an MD with enormous energy, humanity, and experience in the public sector for Secretary of Health and Human Services? Who better than Dr. Dynasaur, himself?

  • Your Name

    I am sure Rahm Emanuel is an able man, in his way. But if he can’t get over himself in the matter of Howard Dean’s being correct, when Emanuel was not, then his judgment is surely questionable. By contrast, Howard Dean is rock-solid, knows when to hold up and when to fold up. A man of decency, long-range vision, discerning judgment, vast knowledge of both the field of health and human services and of how to get things done in a political environment, Dean is the clear choice. His vision for a healthy America is about people, not Big Pharma. Howard Dean is exactly what (and who) we need as Secretary of HHS.

  • MayaS

    While disappointed that Dashle will not be in Obama’s cabinet, I see this as the opportunity for Obama to make right and nominate Howard Dean to the post that everyone knows he is best suited for. I have been deeply disappointed that Dean was not tapped for any position within Obama’s administration and see Dean as a key leader in the democratic win of the White House and majorities in House and Senate. We need him and it would be a great loss to all of us if he does not keep on serving our country.
    And to think, finally an MD and seasoned politician heading HHS. This is the change we need!

  • linda selvia

    Howard Dean is the right man for the job.He made me proud to call myself a Democrat.His fighting spirit that helped reclaim the Democratic Party and make it more progressive.Progressives are fiscally responsible and believe in good government that is responsive to its citizens.

  • Jason

    As a small business owner who grew up in Vermont, I speak from personal experience when I say Dean is the right man for the job. Obama needs to save face and surround himself with the right people who will get the job done. Not to mention, Dean pays his taxes and is not perceived as a “Washington Man”; two important qualities Obama supposedly pushes for, but (and let’s be hones) are not found in Daschle.

  • earnell morris

    I strongly agree that Howard Dean would make and be considered the best choice to be Secretary Of Health and Human Services. I’ve heard on the radio that at this moment, he’s assisting the liberal parties in Europe in organizing their campaigns. Howard Dean doesn’t belong in Europe. He belongs in this nation in assistng the President and his Administration in drafting a health care reform program for this nation. Besides his personal career as a medical doctor, he’s considered an outstanding organizer and spokesperson for the medical profession. With the background that he has in the field of medicine, who could convinced the american people and this President for the need of a health care bill. The most powerful groups of interest that would fight against the idea of universal health coverage will definately come from the American Medical Association, who have a lot at stake in this program. You can’t fight a powerful group without knowing the actual and prudent way to fight them other than someone who comes from the American medical profession. Roosevelt understood that fact when he appointed Joseph P. Kennedy to oversee the newly created Securities and Exchange Commission to fight and catch the crooks in the stock exchange. Roosevelt once said of Kennedy, “It will take a crook to catch a crook”. It will take a doctor to overcome the medical doctors in the fight to have universal health coverage.

  • Danielle

    Howard Dean appears to be a great choice for seeing that Insurance companies stop bilking Americans out of money. We use to have “Humanity” laws that were suppose to be enforced to protect run away greed by insurance companies. Either get rid of greedy insurance companies and have us pool our money in some other “national”
    Health fund or have major transparency. Once again, the bulk of money earned with Insurance companies is going to CEOs instead of lowering costs and saving lives.

  • One true voice

    As a person deeply impacted by the health crisis and knowing whatever solution will be far from perfect, I do believe that Howard Dean will make a much better HHS than Daschle or any of the other names floated. Why Obama is alienating independent-minded outsiders like Dean for the usual corrupt Democrats and Republicans is beyond me. He talks about “bipartisanship” when he should be advocating “NONpartisanship”. Most American’s aren’t glued to a political party but vote based on what they think a candidate will deliver.
    Dean worked hard for his own party, but he also recognized the weaknesses and corruption within his party. Maybe the fact he (rightly) referred to many in Congress as cockroaches still has the corrupt cockroaches still up in arms.
    Will Obama do the right thing? I doubt it. Corruption feeds corruption and they are too busy stealing our tax dollars and getting rich off of us to change. I think the only Senator who isn’t wealthy is Feingold because he hasn’t been corrupted by the payoffs the others take.

  • Dean for HHS!

    Rahm Emanuel needs to get over himself! Howard Dean was and is a superior pick for HHS. The fact that he hasn’t been discussed yet has confused me for some time now.
    Obama ran on a platform that included massive healthcare reform. Dean is someone who will get the job done by cutting the red tape, if necessary. Oh yeah… he’s also a medical doctor and has a history of providing healthcare reform in Vermont as governor.
    This is a no-brainer: Obama should select Dean for HHS and move on to tackling the other issues.

  • judith rocchio

    Governor Howard B. Dean, MD, is clearly the best choice for Secretary of HHS
    and it would be a real shame if, with his talents, background, and deep concern
    for health care for all, he were to be passed over on account of some
    inconsequential issue that may have existed in the past between another person
    in the Obama office and him.
    Furthermore, many people think it would be very “un-Obama-like” if our new
    leader of the free world was not himself giving deep thought to who would do the
    best job in that HHS position. The man who put together the 50-state strategy
    which really helped us get “our man” into the White House thinks like our new
    president does in many ways and has the qualities to make a very big difference
    in this world because he, like President Obama cares deeply for equal services
    for the under-served – particularly in health care . Please do not allow some
    undercurrent of bad feeling between one person in your West Wing and Governor
    Dean to cause you to miss an extraordinary opportunity to put the best person
    for that spot in where he belongs.
    Thus far, listening to others somewhere, you chose a couple of probably fine
    people in their own right but NOT right for your adminstration. We expect you
    to work like you said you would: directly to maintain the highest caliber person
    for each important position.
    Governor Dean is the right man for the HHS. Do not pass him over for something
    in which you were not even involved. We want YOU to make the decision !
    With great pride,
    Judith Rocchio

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