Hey, I just raise taxes...I don't have to pay 'em!

Hey, I just raise taxes...I don't have to pay 'em!

MBA

I confess to having a soft spot in my heart for old-VISITA UNIVISION.COM PARA MAS INFORMACION, Tammany Hall pols like New York Democrat Charles Rangel, current chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee – which is the same committee another loveable old rogue, disgraced Illinois Democrat Dan Rostenkowski, used to oversee back in the day. 

Both are from an era that’s long past, and for good reason, too.  Old Dan ended up doing time in the slam for a myriad of corrupt practices, including mail fraud, and Rangel could find himself going in the same direction, if current news reports are correct.

Now, I don’t know if Rangel himself is actually as corrupt and venal as Rostenkowski turned out to have been, but he certainly appears to be giving the king of backroom wheeling and dealing a run for his money lately.  From out of nowhere, it seems, Congressman Rangel has suddenly amended required financial disclosure forms going back to 2001 in an effort to “fix errors in his financial reporting,” according to one of his aides.

Byron York of the Washington Examiner, in an article entitled “The clock is ticking on tax cheat Charlie Rangel,” lays out fully the depth and breadth of Rangel’s serial tax cheating, which includes failing to report on assets he held which added up to more than 1 million dollars.

Of course, most are aware of Rangel’s “forgetting” to report income earned on certain properties he owns, including a Costa Rican villa from which he derived rental income.  After being caught and THEN fessing up to the IRS, the New York pol was allowed to just pay – with no interest or penalties — the 10 thousand dollars in federal income taxes he owed. 

What a deal!  Get caught cheating, pay what you should have paid in the first place but deliberately evaded (not avoided, which is different) paying and walk away with no penalty or threat of criminal prosecution hanging over your head.

I’m no huge fan of the IRS, so don’t mistake what I’m saying here as a defense of that government agency.  But I really am a proponent of obeying the laws that you helped to write, and as chairman of what’s widely recognized as one of the most powerful committees in the House of Representatives, Rangel helped author federal law dealing with tax cheats just like he, apparently, is turning out to be.

Hypocrisy, anyone?

Hypocrisy, anyone?

At any rate, House Republicans — proving that even they can occasionally make out a tactical and strategic opportunity to smack the Democrats around when it presents itself — have been introducing legislation they’ve named the “Rangel Rule,” which would codify into law the same treatment for private citizens that the good Congressman from the Big Apple received at the hands of the IRS over his own tax evasion. 

California Republican Darrell Issa is now calling for Democrats to give Rangel the broom from at least his committee chairmanship, but I don’t see Nancy Pelosi — who’s proving to be the best thing to happen for Republican politics since Ronald Reagan — allowing that to happen anytime soon.

So…I’m just wondering, Nancy:  What happened to that promise to run the “… most honest, open and ethical Congress in history?”  If Rangel’s any indication of what you’ve been tolerating under your watch, the answer to the question should be fairly clear, right?