Taxes and the Washington Elite

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Former Sen. Tom Daschle (AP)
Former Sen. Tom Daschle, President Barack Obama's nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, after a closed session with the Senate Finance Committee on Monday, Feb. 2, 2009. Daschle withdrew his nomination on Tuesday. (AP)

Former senator Tom Daschle, nominated to be secretary of health and human services, bowing out under fire over unpaid taxes and a pile of money from the lobbying world.

Nancy Killefer, in line to be chief White House performance officer, bowing out over nanny tax issues.

President Obama, contrite, saying “I screwed up.”

So, does anybody in big-money Washington play it straight? Can Obama play it straight, on ethics, and win?

This hour, On Point: Taxes, lobbying, money, and the Washington elite.

You can join the conversation. How do you read the headlines out of Washington on ethics, taxes, big money? Can Obama set it right? Will he?Guests:

From Rochester, N.Y., we're joined by David Cay Johnston, a former reporter for The New York Times, where he won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on tax policy. He's author of the books "Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You With the Bill)" and "Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich and Cheat Everybody Else."

And joining us from Washington is Robert Kaiser, an associate editor of The Washington Post and author of the new book "So Damn Much Money: The Triumph of Lobbying and the Corrosion of American Government." You can read an excerpt here. His article in the Post's Outlook section last Sunday, "Stuck in the Revolving Door," looked at how hard it will be for Obama to change Washington's political culture.

This program aired on February 4, 2009.


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