Obama White House Defends Stimulus, Ethics Rules, Lobbyist-Nominees

Two of President Barack Obama’s top nominees withdrew their named from consideration today because of tax irregularities.

Tom Daschle, the nominee as Secretary of HHS, and Nancy Killefer, who President Obama named to be the nation’s first chief performance officer, have both said they, in the past, failed to pay their taexes in full.

The current Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner also had that problem but his nomination was confirmed by the senate.

In the senate today, the president’s economic stimulus plan is being debated.

The White House invited several national journalists to interview President Obama today on the stimulus but questions about ethics are also expected….

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Despite the tax problems faced by high-level nominees, and the exceptions made to the no-lobbyists pledge, President Barack Obama’s spokesman is defending the administration’s ethical standards.

Robert Gibbs told reporters Tuesday, “The bar that we set is the highest that any administration in the country has ever set.”

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs briefs the press at ... 
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs briefs the press at the White House in Washington, January 22, 2009.(Larry Downing/Reuters)

During a briefing filled with questions about Tom Daschle’s decision to withdraw from consideration to be Health and Human Services secretary, Gibbs pointed to experts who describe the administration’s ethics rules as the strongest in history.

He also said those experts recognized that Obama would need to make exceptions to his pledge to run an administration free of former lobbyists.

Obama’s choice to become the No. 2 official at the Defense Department recently lobbied for military contractor Raytheon. And his choice as deputy secretary at Health and Human Services, lobbied through most of last year as an anti-tobacco advocate.

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