POLITICS
03/06/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Tom Daschle Withdrawal Urged By NYT , The Nation

Both the New York Times and The Nation have called for President Obama's Health and Human Services nominee to withdraw from contention over unpaid taxes as well as money earned working for health care companies.

From the Times editorial:

When President Obama nominated former Senator Tom Daschle to be his secretary of health and human services, it seemed to be a good choice. Mr. Daschle, as the co-author of a book on health care reform, knew a lot about one of the president's signature issues. As a former Senate majority leader, he also knew a lot about guiding controversial bills through Congress, where he remains liked and respected by former colleagues.

Unfortunately, new facts have come to light -- involving his failure to pay substantial taxes that were owed and his sizable income from health-related companies while he worked in the private sector -- that call into question his suitability for the job. We believe that Mr. Daschle ought to step aside and let the president choose a less-blemished successor.

The Times says Daschle's failure to pay taxes is "particularly troubling." But The Nation focuses on the health care company work:

This was a campaign about change. Obama spoke eloquently of ending the way Washington does business and curbing the exploitation of public service for private gain. And he followed through with his early executive order attempting to slow the "revolving door" that has allowed so many former government officials to quickly enter the ranks of registered lobbyists. But slowing that revolving door is only the first step in ending the legalized corruption of the town's lobbying culture.

Daschle's tax problems have, so far, attracted the lion's share of scrutiny. And he may well make it through the Senate---though one leading Democratic Senator told me Sunday that he may not vote for his former colleague's confirmation. But Daschle's potential conflicts of interest should persuade Obama to make this a "teachable moment" and find another public servant to tackle the critical task of healthcare reform.

Nation editor Katrina Vanden Heuvel suggests Howard Dean to replace Daschle.