Archive for the ‘confirmation’ Category

Senators question Daschle’s late tax filing

February 1, 2009

Republican and Democratic senators on Sunday questioned how former Sen. Tom Daschle could make a $128,203 mistake on his taxes but said they were not prepared to oppose his nomination as health secretary.

“You have to be troubled by it,” said Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate.

“We’ll have to question former Sen. Daschle and understand his explanation, and then have a conversation about it and see where it goes,” Kyl said on “Fox News Sunday.” As to how much trouble the tax issue could present for the nomination, he said, “I think it’s too early to tell.”

By DOUGLASS K. DANIEL, Associated Press

Angry Republican senators, including Jon Kyl of Arizona, seen ... 
Angry Republican senators, including Jon Kyl of Arizona, seen here in a 2008 Fox News Sunday(FNS) handout, vowed Thursday to put up a fight against President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus bill after the package passed the House of Representatives with no opposition support.(AFP/FNS-HO/File)

Daschle recently filed amended tax returns to report $128,203 in back taxes and $11,964 in interest. The amended returns reflect additional income for consulting work, the use of a car service and reduced deductions for charitable contributions.

The South Dakota Democrat, once the majority leader of the Senate, was scheduled to meet privately Monday with the Senate Finance Committee.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said he was surprised that Daschle had not paid his taxes properly but would not say whether he thought the nomination was in trouble. He said the committee will make a recommendation to the full Senate. “I think I’m going to just wait until they give me their opinion,” he told CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., said the problem could disqualify Daschle but that he wanted to learn more about the matter.

“It’s disheartening, obviously. People are struggling to pay taxes on a very small amount of income and he’s got this huge amount,” DeMint said on ABC’s “This Week.”

Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, also said the tax problem was a concern and needed more explaining, telling CNN’s “State of the Union” that it involved “an awful lot of money” but that she had not decided to vote against confirmation.

On the Democratic side, Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska called it “a tough issue” and said he was waiting to hear the results of the meeting between Daschle and the Finance Committee.

“I’m not prepared at this point in time to vote no,” Nelson told CNN.

The Senate‘s No. 2 Democrat, Dick Durbin of Illinois, defended Daschle but said skepticism, even cynicism, about Daschle not paying his taxes was understandable.

“But if you know Tom Daschle, you know better,” Durbin said on Fox. “He’s found himself having made a mistake and admitted to it. He took the steps necessary to start paying the taxes, make sure they’re paid. Now, that’s the right thing to do. I believe Tom Daschle’s one of the most honest people I’ve ever known or worked with in public life.”

Daschle, chosen by President Obama to lead the administration’s health initiatives, is the second Cabinet nominee to scramble to pay back taxes. Timothy Geithner’s confirmation as treasury secretary was delayed after it was revealed that he had failed to pay more than $34,000 in taxes.

Obama’s first choice for commerce secretary, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, took his name out of consideration when his confirmation appeared headed toward complications because of a grand jury investigation over how state contracts were issued to political donors.

“President Obama wanted to have a very ethical administration starting out and so on, but I think he’s seeing how hard it is to avoid these kind of problems,” Kyl said. “And I just wonder, if President Bush had nominated these people, what folks would be saying about that.”

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Later on Sunday on “Meet the Press” (NBC) Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) also said she had concerns about Mr. Daschle, even though she said, “I like him personally.”

Meet the Press transcript:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28964188/

Related:
 If Bush Had Nominated Daschle, Would He Have Been Confirmed?

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If Bush Had Nominated Daschle, Would He Have Been Confirmed?

February 1, 2009

Senator Jon Kyle (R-AZ) asked on the Chris Wallace Sunday morning news show, “If Former Senator Tom Daschle had been nominated by President George W. Bush, would he have been confirmed?”

Mr. Daschle apparently failed to pay his full income taxes.

Kyle associated Daschle with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, who also had a failure to pay due taxes problem, Commerce Secretary nominee Bill Richardson, who withdrew his name while his state was under a grand jury investigation, and Mr. Bill Lynn, the nominee for Deputy Secretary of Defense, who was a lobbyist.

Daschle’s troubles are of concern because President Obama promised that he would uphold the highest standard of ethics and he would bar lobbyists from his administration.

William Krisol also said on the Fox news broadcast, “Daschle is a ‘limousine liberal’ that doesn’t even pay his taxes.”

Daschle also accepted more than $200,000 from health care groups for speeches; a possible conflict of interest.

Related:
Daschle Knew of Tax Issues Last June, Raising Questions on Obama Vetting Process, Ethics

The president’s pick for health secretary, Tom Daschle, failed to pay $128,000 in taxes. Photo: Brendan Smialowski for The New York Times

http://www.bigbook.eu/senators-questi
on-daschles-late-tax-filing

Two Clintons and An Obama: Winning Hand? Or Hillary: no command of foreign affairs

January 14, 2009

Why is Sen. Clinton, the spouse of the great influence-peddler, being nominated in the first place? In exchange for giving the painful impression that our State Department will be an attractive destination for lobbyists and donors, what exactly are we getting? George Marshall? Dean Acheson? Even Madeleine Albright? No, we are getting a notoriously ambitious woman who made a fool of herself over Bosnia, at the time and during the recent campaign, and who otherwise has no command of foreign affairs except what she’s picked up second-hand from an impeached ex-president, a disbarred lawyer, and a renter of the Lincoln Bedroom. If the Senate waves this through, it will have reinforced its recent image as the rubber-stamp chamber of a bankrupt banana republic. Not an especially good start to the brave new era.

…..

Here is a thought experiment that does not take very much thought. Picture, if you will, Hillary Clinton facing a foreign-policy conundrum. With whom will she discuss it first and most intently: with her president or her husband? (I did tell you that this wouldn’t be difficult.) Here’s another one: Will she be swayed in her foreign-policy decisions by electoral considerations focusing on the year 2012, and, if so, will she be swayed by President Barack Obama’s interests or her own?

By Christopher Hitchins, Slate

The next question, and I must apologize in advance for once again making it an un-strenuous one, is: Who else will be approaching Bill Clinton for advice, counsel, and “input” on foreign affairs? It appears from the donor list of the Clinton Foundation that there is barely an oligarch, royal family, or special-interest group anywhere in the world that does not know how to get the former president’s attention.

Read the rest:
http://www.slate.com/id/2208425/?GT1=38001

Gushing Over Hillary

January 14, 2009

We seem in a moment of gushing over everybody.  All are gushing over barack Obama, the man of hope.  Terrific.

But yesterday, the members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, gushed all over hillary Clinton, and that was unnecessary and sad….

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By Dana Milbank
The Washington Post

At Hillary Clinton‘s confirmation hearing yesterday, senators came up with a new interpretation of the Constitution’s “advice and consent” clause. This one could be called the “admire and congratulate” clause.

“In Senator Clinton, President-elect Obama has boldly chosen the epitome of a big-leaguer,” gushed Sen. Richard Lugar (Ind.), the ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee.

“She’s an excellent choice,” asserted Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.).

“There couldn’t be a better person to represent our nation,” Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) amended.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) sounded as if she were writing for Hallmark as she told Clinton: “I truly appreciate all that you are poised to do and what you have done in the past.”

The line of spectators trying to get into the hearing room snaked the length of the Hart Senate Office Building — more than even a nominee to the Supreme Court can expect — and yet there was no suspense inside. Clinton’s confirmation was a sure thing, and the senators were so deferential to their colleague that they didn’t bother to swear her in, the way they did when her predecessor, Condoleezza Rice, came for her confirmation.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/cont
ent/article/2009/01/13/AR200901130271
7.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

Obama: “Utmost Respect” for CIA Choice Leon Panetta

January 6, 2009

Just about 24 hours after the news was released that the President-elect would probably nominate Leon Panetta to head the CIA, Mr. Obama had to defend his choice before reporters this afternoon.

Panetta, a former Congressman from California and Clinton White House Chief of Staff, has already come under fire because he has no intelligence service experience, even on the House Intelligence Committee.

Barack Obama praised Panetta’s management skill and experience and said when he formally announces his intelligence team that anouncement will show balance, skill and experience.

Obama went out of his way to say Panetta as “one of the finest public servants that we’ve had.”

“He brings extraordinary management skills, great political savvy, an impeccable record of integrity,” Obama said, adding — perhaps in answer to grumbling from some members of Congress that Panetta has no direct experience in intelligence-gathering — that “he is somebody who obviously was fully versed in international affairs crisis management, and had to evaluate intelligence consistently on a day-to-day basis.”

Los Angeles Times writers  Greg Miller and Christi Parsons  said, “In choosing Leon E. Panetta to be the next CIA director, President-elect Barack Obama appears to have concluded that a spy chief who understands politics may be better equipped to carry out the incoming administration’s national security agenda than one who understands espionage.”

But despite Panetta’s known political acumen and that of the Obama team, one small detail was left unattended.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who this week begins her tenure as the first female head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said she was not consulted on the choice and indicated she might oppose it.

“I was not informed about the selection of Leon Panetta to be the CIA director,” Feinstein said. “My position has consistently been that I believe the agency is best served by having an intelligence professional in charge at this time.”

Panetta’s lack of “intelligence experience” is probably seen as a good thing by Obama and his advisors.

George Tenet came up through the CIA to become the Director of the CIA team that made the wrong call on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

And Porter Goss, a well respected member of the House Itelligence Committee, went to head the CIA where most said he failed….

By John E. Carey
Wakefield Chapel, Virginia

Related:
 Obama’s CIA Pick from “Left Field” Agents Say; President-Elect Wants It That Way

What’s so bad about Panetta?
http://johnmcquaid.com/2009/01/06/whats-
wrong-with-panetta/

Read the Los Angeles Times story:
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation
/la-na-obama-cia-panetta6-2009jan06,0,5514283.story

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Read the Huffington Post

There are lessons to be learned from Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s reaction to the nomination of Leon Panetta as CIA head. One is that powerful Democratic Senators can be no less sensitive or arbitrary than their GOP counterparts. Another is that the phrase “intelligence professional” can be used like a mantra without being properly defined for the public. Nevertheless, the appointment of a “politician” to run the CIA is not inherently wrong. It can be a good or bad thing — depending on how it’s done, and by whom.

Read the rest:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rj-eskow/feinstein
panetta-senatori_b_155627.html

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From Politico:

Did the appointment of Panetta — a 70-year-old veteran of the Democratic establishment with a blue-chip name but no record of fresh thinking about intelligence issues — indicate a dearth of creativity and options within the Obama team as time runs out on the transition?

Read more:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/politico/20090106
/pl_politico/17107_1

Even Democrats Cool To Obama’s CIA Pick

January 6, 2009

After his first idea for the CIA was flogged by liberal bloggers, President-elect Obama picked Leon Panetta to head the nation’s top spy agency.

But former CIA agents and Congressional Democrats are not thrilled with this choice either….

Related:
CIA: At Least One Obama Nominee Idea Derailed
.
 Obama’s CIA Pick from “Left Field” Agents Say; President-Elect Wants It That Way

By Eli Lake
The Washington Times

President-elect Barack Obama‘s reported choice of Leon Panetta, a former congressman and White House chief of staff, to head the Central Intelligence Agency has provoked sharp criticism from senior Democrats whom the White House will need to gain his confirmation.

The Obama transition team did not return phone calls seeking comment on the nomination, which was confirmed by other Democrats and intelligence officials.

But the incoming chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Dianne Feinstein – like Mr. Panetta, a California Democrat – issued a statement saying “my position has consistently been that I believe the agency is best served by having an intelligence professional in charge at this time.”

US president-elect Barack Obama has chosen former lawmaker and ... 

An aide to the current chairman of the committee, Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV, West Virginia Democrat, said his boss had similar concerns.

“He believes the director of the CIA needs to have significant intelligence experience,” the aide said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. “He has also had the long-held belief that the director of the CIA and senior intelligence officials in general need to not be from the political world.”

The criticism over the choice of Mr. Panetta follows nearly universal praise for Mr. Obama’s earlier major appointments and highlights the president-elect’s first bumpy patch.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/20
09/jan/06/democrats-cool-to-panetta-at-cia/

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From Politico:

Spencer Ackerman gets a statement from Dianne Feinstein’s office:

“I was not informed about the selection of Leon Panetta to be the CIA Director. I know nothing about this, other than what I’ve read,” said Senator Feinstein, who will chair the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in the 111th Congress.

“My position has consistently been that I believe the Agency is best-served by having an intelligence professional in charge at this time.”

That seems to reflect the view inside the CIA, and suggests a tough confirmation hearing.

http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/0
109/Friction_on_Panetta.html

Dianne Feinstein

http://edition.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/
01/05/panetta.cia/index.html

President-Elect’s Appointees May Not All Be Coronated

December 12, 2008

The back-and-forth over when to hold a confirmation hearing for Eric Holder, President-elect Barack Obama‘s choice for attorney general, isn’t simply a matter of saving a date on the Senate calendar. It’s an early test of strength for minority Republicans on the eve of one-party Democratic rule in Washington.

By LAURIE KELLMAN, Associated Press Writer

Even with a Democrat in the White House and strong Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, Republicans are making clear that they won’t be ignored — and warning Obama that he shouldn’t expect swift confirmation of Holder or any other Cabinet choices.

“It’s not a coronation,” Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., said of Holder’s confirmation hearings.

Senator Charles Schumer (L) (D-NY) meets with U.S. Attorney ... 
Senator Charles Schumer (L) (D-NY) meets with U.S. Attorney General nominee Eric Holder on Capitol Hill in Washington December 10, 2008.REUTERS/Mitch Dumke (UNITED STATES)

To anyone who understands political lexicon, his comments and those of a parade of other Judiciary Committee Republicans were clear warning shots fired from a fading Congress toward the Democratic leaders of the next one — for the benefit of anyone who believes one-party rule will mean quick or easy governing.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081212/ap_on_
go_ca_st_pe/confirmation_dance_analysis