Thursday, October 8, 2009

Rep. Rangel is a symptom of a larger problem in D.C.

Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) is being accused of ethical violations. Rep. Rangel is the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee that tackles tax issues among other items. Some of the issues the House Ethics committee is investigating are:

  • Rangel's four rental apartments in Harlem at below-market rates while claiming his home in Washington D.C. as his primary residence for tax purposes.
  • The failure of disclosing a resort villa in the Dominican Republic rental income and the finance deal of the property.
  • The use of Congressional letterhead to raise funds from donors for a public policy center at City College of New York(CCNY) that would bear his name
  • The storing of his Mercedes in the House parking lot in violation of House rules.
  • The preservation of a tax loophole to benefit an oil drilling company whose CEO donated $1M to an educational center at CCNY in Rep. Rangel's name.

There are other allegations being investigated as well. See a complete timeline of Rep. Rangel's scandal at http://www.nlpc.org/stories/2009/10/07/rangel-scandal-timeline. Republicans in the House are requesting that Rep. Rangel step down as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. House Speaker has appointed Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) as chairperson of the Ethics Committee. According to the National Legal and Policy Center, Rep. Rangel "has made campaign contributions to three of the five Democrats on the committee, with only one of them, Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT), returning the money." How does this look for Democrats?

What a circus! I always found it interesting to see an ethics committee establishment, of peers, laughable. Yesterday Rep. John Carter (R-TX) attempted to pass a resolution that would remove Rep. Rangel from his chairmanship. The resolution was voted down 246 to 153 and tabled. The tabling of the resolution moves the investigation to the above mentioned Ethics Committee. While I agree with Rep. Peter King (R-NY) that "it is a dangerous precedent to find someone guilty before the ethics committee has made a decision." Now if the ethics committee does find Rep. Rangel in violation of House rules and tax evasion, I'd hope that New Yorkers will vote in masses to oust Rep. Rangel from office.

This type of corruption is why positive legislation is tough to get through. Plus, why should we as Americans pay our taxes if people like Rep. Rangel or Secretary of Treasurer Geitner do not pay theirs until they are caught? In 2010 it is time for Americans to oust all those in Congress and vote in new blood. It is time to send a signal that corruption on Capitol Hill has to stop and if real reform is not passed we will continue to vote you out after one term. The tax code needs changing, which I have touched on in a previous blog entry, and so does the manner in which we elect our politicians.

It is time to level the playing field. In every country that we "set up" Democracy the elections are free. Change the tax code to a flat tax without credits and reduce the political season to the four months prior to the November elections. But I digress. The issue is the continual scandals of our elected officials. The predominant thought in Washington is not to pay taxes and take kickbacks and if you get caught – hopefully it's not too bad – we will form an "Ethics Committee" to resolve the issue. Really? The crooks are judging the crooks; that makes a lot of sense.