White House in Danger of Double Standard?

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CBNNews.com - WASHINGTON - The White House is announcing a plan to cap pay for executives at half-a-million dollars in some of the firms receiving government rescue money.

The plan would be a big jump in government power over the private sector, even as a handful of President Barack Obama's nominees have revealed problems with their taxes.

Obama and other politicians have expressed anger over Wall Street firms paying $18 billion in bonuses even as they were begging for taxpayer bailouts.

"They're getting a lot of money, they made a lot of mistakes," Rep. Barney Frank said. "They have to lean over backwards not to offend people. In terms of compensation and everything else."

But the Obama administration has had its own problems with some of its top nominees offending people.

For instance, word coming out that health czar Tom Daschle -- who made millions in the private sector the last few years had not paid more than $140,000 in taxes for the use of a limousine and private driver.

Republicans on Capitol Hill warned that kind of thing makes taxpayers furious.

"They're mad about our tax system. And it makes them even angrier when people in government just choose not to pay their taxes," Rep. Jim DeMint said Tuesday.

Daschle withdrew his nomination Tuesday. He was followed right after by Nancy Killefer, who'd been picked to help make government more efficient and transparent.

Tuesday she revealed she, too, had failed to pay taxes.

"I think they both recognized that you can't set an example of responsibility but accept a different standard in who serves," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters Tuesday.

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is a third administration figure who had problems getting his taxes paid, but he managed to weather the scandal.

Obama says he realizes his White House is in danger of looking like it has a double-standard.

"The most important thing, from my perspective, is making sure that the American people understand we don't have two sets of rules here, that everybody has responsibilities," Obama said.

As for its proposal to limit compensation for executives, the White House wants to reach out even beyond companies getting bailout money.

Some are crying foul, saying this could set a precedent for government sticking its nose into private matters about pay.

Obama insists this is no government takeover, but he warned executives are going to be held accountable.

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Paul Strand

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