Sunday, September 6, 2009

Me Disclose Assets? Me Pay Taxes? Me?

Born in Harlem, deserted by his father at age 6, dropped out of high school where he was often truant and in 1948 at 16 he joined the army. He fought in Korea and was wounded by shrapnel from a Red Chinese shell at Kunu Ri. He got a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for helping to lead what was left of his battered unit away from the Chinese army. After that experience, it was understandable when, in 2000, he said, "Since Kunu Ri – and I mean it with all my heart, I have never, never had a bad day.” Charlie Rangel has been living the good life ever since. He titled his 2006 book, And I Haven’t Had a Bad Day Since.

Upon honorable discharge in 1952, he finished high school and then earned a B.S. from the New York University School of Commerce in 1957, where he made the dean’s list and, on full scholarship, obtained a Juris Doctor from St John’s University School of Law in 1960. He joined a prominent black law firm and mainly represented civil rights activists for about a year and then was appointed by Robert F. Kennedy as Assistant U.S. Attorney and from then on, as we’ve seen with our other poster children, he never got off the public payroll for the rest of his life –and got rich! Rangel was legal counsel to the NY Housing and Redevelopment Board, associate counsel to the Speaker of the NY State Assembly, a law clerk to a Judge and general counsel to the Advisory Commission on Selective Service.

His elected political activity began in 1964 when his mentor, NY State Assemblyman Percy Sutton, became Borough president and Rangel took his seat in the NY Assembly. He was there for two terms from 1964 to ’68 where he became friendly with Governor Nelson Rockefeller. So friendly that Rockefeller arranged to have Rangel run on the Republican ticket at the same time he ran on the Democrat line. You can do that in NY. So, I guess you can say that Charlie was a Rockefeller Republican. He ran for congress on both Repub and Dem lines in 1970.His district is the smallest geographically in the U.S. He’s been in congress now for 38 years!

Sad to say that in all those years he has done little to further freedom and prosperity of the citizens of our Republic. In fact, he voted for taxing and spending so much that he consistently earned the lowest “F” rating from the non-partisan national Taxpayers Union. To his credit he has usually been a supporter of free trade. In a discussion of the Peru free trade agreement Rangel made the comment that, “It's absolutely ridiculous to believe that we can create jobs without trade.” But he also pushes to remove trade barriers with Cuba at the same time he wants to impose restrictions on China for humanitarian reasons. Seems like a contradiction but a lot of the poster children have a soft spot for Castro.

He has favored laws to require more hiring of women and minorities, in favor of abortion rights, much more federal welfare on all levels, same-sex domestic partner benefits and FedGov takeover of health care. One of his goals is to reduce the concentration of wealth & wage inequality on the socialist model. He has opposed privatization of Social Security as a way to solve that programs inevitable insolvency.

Probably, at least partly, because he feels that his US Army service was a positive turning point in his life he wants to re-impose the mandatory draft so he sponsored the National Service Act. The purpose of Rangel’s bill is: “To require all persons in the United States between the ages of 18 and 42 to perform national service, either as a member of the uniformed services or in civilian service in furtherance of the national defense and homeland security . . . .” Here is how the civilian service is described in the bill (sec 102(b)): a civilian capacity that, as determined by the President, promotes the national defense, including national or community service and service related to homeland security.

We can’t find where Charlie Rangel ever referred to the US Constitution for any guidance as to what bills to support or how to vote. That is common among those who consider themselves the “ruling class.” And it is the attitude of hubris and arrogance that prevails in the lifetime tenures of congress.
From the Washington Examiner: “…the powerful committee chairman in charge of writing America's tax laws is a financial wheeler-dealer, a serial asset-hider, and a tax offender.” Not unlike most of Obama’s appointments, I might add –see Michelle Malkin’s The Culture of Corruption.

As the powerful chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, along with Speaker Pelosi and fellow Dem power brokers Waxman and Frank (poster children all), Rangel is playing a key role in the effort to push the president's health care, environmental, and financial initiatives through the House. The fact that he has filed grossly dishonest financial disclosures seems not to have affected his power and position. So, how serious are his ethics violations? Specifically:
 Rangel’s effort to preserve a tax loophole for an oil-drilling company at the same time that its chief executive pledged $1 million to the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at City College of New York, which was itself built with a $1.9 million earmark -- he has been soliciting donations on his congressional letterhead for his monument;
 Rangel had a credit union account worth at least $250,000 and maybe as much as $500,000 -- and didn't report it;
 Rangel didn't report and didn't pay taxes on income from a villa in the Caribbean – when caught, the IRS gave him sweetheart treatment --Rangel paid about $10,000 in back taxes but was not required to pay any penalty or interest;
 He had undisclosed investment accounts at JP Morgan, Merrill Lynch, Oppenheimer and BlackRock worth hundreds of thousands;
 Then there’s the three unreported pieces of property in Glassboro NJ on which he has not paid the taxes;
 He has four rent-stabilized apartments at New York City's fancy Lenox Terrace while he lists his residence in Washington D.C. I could keep looking but you get the idea.

Rangel's doings are under investigation by the House Ethics Committee, which of course hasn't taken any action. Dems are standing behind their chairman, and minority Repubs can't do anything about it. We can assume that Members of Congress consider that rules are for other people, and sadly, the ethics committee does nothing to correct that assumption. Here’s a kicker: Rangel has contributed money to the campaigns of the Ethics Committee members of whom three are known as Charlie’s “Angels” –they are Congressmen Chandler of KY, Butterfield of NC and Welch of VT. All have received donations from Rangel. In fact, Rangel has given money to 119 Congressmen since the ethics probe began last year. Pay to play.

Does Charlie believe that he is above the law and smarter than the rest of us? In response to reporters’ questions about his failure to disclose hundreds of thousands in assets, House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel had this to say: “I recognize that all of you have an obligation to ask questions knowing that there's none of you smart enough to frame it in such a way that I'm going to respond.”

Given where he started and his war service and his efforts to get through college and all the opportunities given in him this great country, he could have turned out to be a great man. Instead he took advantage of us all for his own benefit. The professional politician is indeed the scourge of our time.

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