Politics

“Disabling” Charlie Rangel

Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY): "You got to be kind to the disabled.” (when asked about Gov. Sarah Palin)

CBS 2 HD Reporter: "You got to be kind to the disabled?"

Rep. Charlie Rangel: “Yes."

CBS 2 HD Reporter: "She’s disabled?"

Rep. Charlie Rangel: "There’s no question about it politically. It’s a nightmare to think that a person’s foreign policy is based on their ability to look at Russia from where they live."

He’s arguably the most powerful man in Congress. He’s the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, which means he’s the guy who controls the agenda on tax policy. Always flamboyant, Charlie Rangel has gone too far this time. After he made these statements about Gov. Sarah Palin to a New York television reporter, he realized he has stepped in it and tried to backtrack. But it won’t work this time, Charlie, because we won’t let it.

Of course, Rangel is defending himself by claiming to be a victim of unfair GOP attacks. But it’s not the GOP — it’s Charlie — who did the things that have him in hoc to the ethics committee. It’s good ol’ Charlie that has the taxpayer-funded Cadillac Escalade with a mobile office in the back. It’s Charlie who abused the system of rent-controlled apartments in Harlem, using four himself for offices and such. And it’s Charlie who abused the House parking policy by storing a car in the House members parking lot, and it’s Charlie who’s apparently guilty of nonpayment of taxes on a property in the Dominican Republic.

The powerful Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee says his wife takes care of all of that and he didn’t know his own financial situation. As of Monday, he’s paid the obvious $10,000 or so dollars owed on the property in the Dominican Republic, but this may only be the beginning.

Even his colleagues in the House aren’t buying into his complaints about having a “GOP-drawn target in his back,” or that “I’m now a Republican talking point.” As the New York Daily News reporters said, “It was acting like a bulletproof powerbroker that seems to have put him in the jam he’s in.”

He is everything that Gov. Sarah Palin is not. Charlie Rangel is the epitome of what is wrong with Washington: people such as Rangel, who have been there so long they feel entitled to these perks.  The more money you send to Congress, the more they think they are entitled to spend on themselves.

"The reason why the sharks are after him is that there’s blood in the water — and it’s his blood and he did it himself," said Doug Muzzio of the Baruch College School of Public Affairs.

It’s not enough to claim sloppiness in keeping your own records when you are the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. But it’s worse than that: Rangel has used his elected office to enrich himself. There’s something different here also. Remember Congressman William Jefferson of Louisiana — the guy that had $90,000 in his freezer? There was hardly a blink from the Democrat leadership on him. In fact, he’s been re-elected. But in Rangel’s case, there are calls from his resignation by The New York Times and other New York newspapers, and his colleagues don’t seem to be rushing to his side. In fact, they’ve said privately and publicly that his claims of foul play by the Republicans are empty and that his wounds are self-inflicted.

Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia concurs that Rangel is in trouble. He goes on to imply what’s worse is he probably didn’t look at these perks as needing financial disclosure. Rangel is part of a “club” of about 100 members of Congress who “are a serious argument for term limits,” Sabato said.

When the House ownership of his Cadillac “rolling office” was revealed, Rangel said his constituents expected him have these kinds of perks. “It made them feel better,” he argued. But his New York constituency or the American people didn’t tell him to break the law on the ownership of rent-stabilized apartments, or to have a second home that he fails to report and pay taxes on.

What are these guys thinking? No one believes that Sen. McCain has ever been a part of the “culture of corruption.” And Gov. Palin is the ultimate outsider. These power brokers are scared to death of a McCain/Palin administration because they know from experience that John McCain doesn’t play those games. They aren’t sure about Palin, but her meteoric rise and eclipse of both Obama and Biden scares them to death.

What will happen to Rangel? He’s sure to be re-elected, but, if it’s a McCain/Palin administration, you might see an early resignation for Rep. Rangel. It’s high time for that.


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