CBC “Rangels” Support for Representative


It should come as a surprise to no one that Chares Rangel (D-NY) has received support from the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC).  This is a group of black politicians who, apparently, cannot see the irony in the fact that the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee cannot file an accurate tax return. 

The Ways and Means Commitee is responsible for writing tax laws.  If the chariman of that commitee made mistakes on his tax returns because they are so complicated, why doesn’t his committee do something to make the laws simpler and easier to comply with?  He would be the guy who could do such a thing, wouldn’t he? 

The Hill reports today that the Chairman has now hired an accountant to look over his finances and make corrections.  If Rep. Rangel cared about getting the returns correct, he would probably have done that BEFORE filing.  If you think this is a simple mistake by a really busy guy, I’ve got some oceanfront property you can buy in Montana.  This is, at the very least, and ethics violation, and at the most a criminal violation.  Ask Wesley Snipes how much slack he got when he failed to file a return.  (I know.  You moral equivalency freaks out there will say that Snipes did not file a return at all, while Rangel filed an inaccurate one.  Either way, both guys did not report income. ) 

This  points to a huge legitimacy problem in Washington.  How can we the people be held accountable and punished if we fail to claim all of our income properly in the maze that is the 1040 form if the writers of the laws aren’t?  It’s simple.  We don’t have an advocacy group sticking up for us like Rangel does.  We don’t have the CBC to call Republicans names and make excuses for us if we make a mistake.  No, we get a nasty gram from the IRS demanding that we pay what we owe immediately or call to make arrangements for payment (good luck getting them on the phone).  If we don’t respond quickly enough, the IRS can legally put a garnishment request on our take-home pay, come to our homes and haul off our stuff, even take our home, if they want to.  All of this because you didn’t subtract line 64 from line 7 correclty and multiply by 0.1 to get the appropriated amount you have to pay.  It took the IRS two years to find the error, write the notice, mail it, and you have to pay interest for the time you owed money, when you didn’t even know you owed anything.  Oh, and you have 30 days from the date of the notice to respond.  Or else. 

Our advocacy group was supposed to be the United States House of Representatives.  Unfortunately, they appear to believe that we serve them, and not the other way around.

I will honestly say that I don’t know about the legislation Charles Rangel has written, sponsored or voted on in his almost forty years in the House.  He may serve the people of his district faithfully and to the best of his ability.  But, if he cheats on his taxes, what else has he cheated on?  What agenda is he promoting if he is not held to the same standards of ethics as the people HE SERVES? 

Maybe he should be fired as Chariman, then fired as Representative.  But, if the CBC’s response is any indication of how people take care of their own, I suspect that we can look forward to Rep. Rangel being around for a long time to come. 

You see, voters don’t care if the people they hire are ethical.  Voters care about what the people they hire will do for them.  Apparently, Rangel, in his time in the Congress, has eradicated poverty and crime in Harlem, the district he serves.  He has improved education and commerce there, providing jobs for the people who live there, right?  That is what Rangel should be doing for the people of Harlem, NY.  Instead, he is getting money for the CCNY’s Charles Rangel Institute of  Public Service.  To the tune of about three million dollars, for military research Pentagon doesn’t want.  (CCNY is City College of New York).  That will help bring jobs to the people of Harlem.  That will help ensure that teenagers won’t become pregnant. 

 Rangel is being investigated, and the outcome of that investigation may determine if he will be the Ways and Means Chariman.  But, if the investigation proves wrongdoing on Rangel’s behalf, I’m sure he’ll have all the support he needs.  Maybe the Black Panthers and Moveon.org will chip in and help.  Perhaps the Sierra Club and the ASPCA will issue public support statements.  Maybe President Obama himself will consult his teleprompter for a brief statement supporting the work Rangel does on behalf of his constituents.  He may even be able to blame President Bush for Rangel’s predicament. 

But one thing should be certain.  Rangel will have to pay for any wrongdoings, intentional or not.  Fines, back taxes, interest payments and maybe even a slap on the wrist from Nancy Pelosi may be forthcoming.  I say it should be certain.  It’s not certain, because Washington politicians don’t have to live by the same rules as the rest of us. 

Perhaps Representative Rangel should head back to Harlem and help the people he serves.  That is, after all, his job.

JR

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