[After a couple of years of this, we might actually miss Bush.]
WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- Democratic members of the Senate Finance Committee voiced strong support for the nomination of former Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., to serve as Secretary of Health and Human Services, after a closed-door meeting Monday.
Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., who chairs the Finance Committee, said he will hold a hearing next week to consider Daschle's nomination.
"Senator Daschle made mistakes on his taxes. They were disappointing mistakes, but it is clear that they were not purposeful mistakes," Baucus told reporters after the meeting.
"The fact is, Tom Daschle remains eminently qualified to serve as secretary of Health and Human Services," Baucus continued.
The former Senate majority leader recently paid $146,000 in back taxes and interest to correct lapses on his personal taxes. The questions surround unreported taxable income related to a car and driver provided by private-equity firm InterMedia Advisors LLP, unreported consulting income and improper deductions for charitable giving.
The Finance Committee held a bipartisan meeting Monday to allow Daschle to explain his mistakes in person. Republicans leaving the meeting said they had no comment on private discussions.
The tax problems complicate a nomination that otherwise was expected to proceed without difficulty. They come after revelations about Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's failure to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes, during Geithner's confirmation process, embarrassed the Obama White House.
Daschle also appeared before reporters to reiterate his apology for the errors. "I deeply apologize to President Obama, my colleagues and the American people. I would hope my mistakes would be viewed in the context of 30 years of public service," Daschle said.
Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., also speaking to reporters after the meeting, said Daschle deserved no blame for the mistakes. He faulted InterMedia Advisors for failing to provide Daschle with a 1099 form to inform him that he had taxable income.
[If we could just get enough dems to catch up on their back taxes, the financial crisis might be solved. ][Wesley Snipes must be rolling over in his cell.]