Another Obama nominee withdraws cabinet nomination

February 4th, 2009 - 3:16 am ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaWashington, Feb 4 (IANS) Tax troubles Tuesday forced former Senate majority leader Tom Daschle to withdraw his nomination as President Barack Obama’s health secretary giving a setback to his efforts to quickly forge his cabinet to take forward his agenda of change.In a statement Dascchle, who had been fighting to save his nomination following controversy over his tax records and questions over his work in a field that some consider lobbying, said he did not want payment of $140,000 in back taxes to be a distraction.

Accepting Daschle’s decision “with sadness and regret”, Obama said: “Tom made a mistake, which he has openly acknowledged. He has not excused it, nor do I.”

“But that mistake, and this decision, cannot diminish the many contributions Tom has made to this country, from his years in the military to his decades of public service. Now we must move forward, with our plan to lift this economy and put people back to work,” he said.

Daschle said it was an honour to be chosen to lead the reform of America’s health care system. “But if 30 years of exposure to the challenges inherent in our system has taught me anything, it has taught me that this work will require a leader who can operate with the full faith of Congress and the American people, and without distraction.” he said.

“Right now, I am not that leader, and will not be a distraction. The focus of Congress should be on the urgent business of moving the president’s economic agenda forward, including affordable health care for every American.”

The Obama administration had stood by his side, and fellow Democrats lined up behind him, but Daschle’s problems, coupled with other nominees’ issues, gave critics ammunition to question Obama’s call for a “new era of responsibility”.

Daschle’s resignation came hours after Nancy Killefer’s withdrawal as Obama’s chief performance officer, a new post in the administration.

Officials said privately the reason for Killefer’s withdrawal was unspecified tax issues. The much-touted post was designed to scrub the federal budget.

Daschle apologized Monday for failing to pay his taxes in full. He said earlier he was “deeply embarrassed” for a series of errors that included failing to report $15,000 in charitable donations, unreported car service and more than $80,000 in unreported income from consulting.

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