Former Senate Majority Leader Thomas Daschle has pulled out of consideration as the Obama administration nominee for the post of Health and Human Services secretary.
Daschle, a Democrat who represented South Dakota in the Senate, had come under fire in connection with allegations that he failed to pay taxes on free use of a car.
Daschle also has been criticized for accepting fees to talk about his views on health policy at gatherings sponsored by industry organizations such as America’s Health Insurance Plans, Washington.
A reporter asked Monday during the daily White House press briefing about the possible effects of Daschle’s tax concerns on efforts to change the U.S. health finance system.
“On Tom Daschle, is the president at all concerned that the continuing problem of members of your cabinet, or aspiring members of your cabinet, to pay their taxes according to the law will undercut either the president’s rhetoric on an era or responsibility, or the fact that your health plan and your tax plans going forward are likely going to be asking American — some Americans to pay more in taxes?”
Running the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services “will require a leader who can operate with the full faith of Congress and the American people, and without distraction,” Daschle says in a statement about his decision to withdraw from the nomination process. “Right now, I am not that leader, and will not be a distraction.”
President Obama says he has accepted Daschle’s decision to withdraw his nominee with “sadness and regret.”