The focus on Tom Daschle's belated tax payments and his choice to utilize a car and driver has trivialized the job he was nominated to do. His tax problems were a serious issue, but he addressed them and paid his bill. The inference promoted by opponents of health care reform that his lapses were deliberate fraud is a convenient way to block that reform by shifting the focus from the state of U.S. health care to tabloid gossip and speculation. Just as his house in D.C. was made a campaign issue in 2004 as an appeal to the sullen jealousies of voters who resent anyone's success, his use of a car and driver was inflated into a betrayal of South Dakota values. The puling petulance on the blogosphere defines what those values are in fact.
Daschle's withdrawal from the nomination occasioned great bipartisan elation on the blogosphere, but it leaves 50 million people who cannot afford health care with greatly diminished prospects for ever having it available to them. No one possesses the combination of knowledge of health care issues and the skill to guide real reform through Congress more than Tom Daschle [David Newquist, "When Political Games Displace Work," Northern Valley Beacon, 2009.02.07].
Let's get our eyes back on the ball. Love him or hate him, the Tom Daschle story doesn't amount to a hill of beans next to the impact spiraling health insurance costs are having on the economy and our fellow Americans.
While I'm thinking of it, Assurant just jacked up my premium at a 17% annual rate. That means my family will spend a thousand dollars more this year on health insurance, money on which, if we stay healthy, we will get no direct return. That also means we will spend a thousand dollars less at the lumberyard, the bookstore, and Dairy Queen (sorry, DeLon!).
If you're worried about the economy, you should be worried about health care. High premiums and inefficient for-profit health insurance is a huge drag on the economy. We don't have time for political games; we need health care reform now.