What interests me most about Tom Daschle’s tax problems is how it will affect the upcoming push on health care. Remember that Daschle was not merely tapped by President Obama to be Secretary of Health and Human Services, but to head up the newly created White House Office of Health Reform. It’s a symbolic position, but it sent a signal that Daschle wasn’t intended to be somebody who would merely run the bureaucracy of HHS, but who would lead Obama’s effort to craft a health-care proposal and shepherd it through Congress. Aside from his close relationship with Obama and his passion for health care, the former Senate Majority Leader was tapped because of his vast legislative experience and talent and getting things passed. This was touted as a major contrast to Bill Clinton’s failed attempt at reform, which was led by Hillary Clinton and Ira Magaziner, neither of whom had any legislative experience. If Daschle is forced to withdraw his nomination only to be replaced by a more conventional pick, it would be a setback for Obama’s efforts on health care. But even if Daschle somehow survives, he’ll be damaged goods. He won’t have the same clout on the Hill, and he won’t have as much credibility with the general public. During the transition process, Daschle was put out as the public face of the Obama health care effort, traveling around the country to lead discussions on the issue, and recording YouTube videos that were posted on the change.gov transition website. Are people going to trust a man to reorganize our $2 trillion health-care system who has received hundreds of thousands in speaking fees from health-care interests, and who failed to pay $140,000 in taxes?