Monday, September 15, 2008

Swamp Monster

Nancy Pelosi led the fight in 2006 to take back Congress by promising to "drain the swamp" of corruption. Two years later, its clear that not only has Pelosi failed to drain the swamp, she's added more fetid water and the swamp's starting to produce monsters. The latest, Chairman of the Black Lagoon House Ways and Means Committee, Charlie Rangel. It seems that the man charged with oversight of our tax system has been taking notes on how to commit tax evasion. With November approaching and the gap between generic Dems and generic Republicans closing rapidly, Rep. Rangel's sins have even the NYT emitting swamp gas.

Revelations about Charlie Rangel's corruption have been coming fast and furious. First there was the misuse of rent stabilized apartment in Harlem, then the misuse of his official letterhead to raise funds, and now comes the news that Rangel has evaded taxes by failing to declare income on a villa he owns in the Dominican Republic. His excuse - that he did not understand the laws and got confused over the Spanish - is beyond laughable. Indeed, it is so bad that even the NYT Editorial Board is asking Speaker Pelosi to remove Rangel - preferably long before November:

Mounting embarrassment for taxpayers and Congress makes it imperative that Representative Charles Rangel step aside as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee while his ethical problems are investigated.

. . . Mr. Rangel himself has felt obliged to request three separate House ethics inquiries of his behavior. While denying serious improprieties, Mr. Rangel concedes that he has not lived up to the “higher standard” expected of members of Congress.

His latest admission is that as chief of Congress’s tax-writing committee, he was “irresponsible” in failing to disclose $75,000 in rental income and pay federal and state taxes on a villa in the Dominican Republic.

His temporary yielding of the gavel is an urgent necessity for a Democratic Congress elected two years ago on promises of an ethical housecleaning. The villa dealings only add momentum to the investigations of two earlier controversies — Mr. Rangel’s favored treatment in occupying four rent-stabilized apartments in Manhattan, and his improper use of official letterheads to solicit support from charities and corporations for an academic center to memorialize his career in public service.

Mr. Rangel has hurt his case with clumsy, combative pleas of ignorance of the facts and law involving his Dominican villa. “We do make errors, even though we consider ourselves experts in terms of tax policy for the nation,” said the lawmaker, who has three decades’ experience on Ways and Means.

His excuse of “cultural and language barriers” with Dominican officials was, simply, offensive. “Every time I thought I was getting somewhere, they’d start speaking Spanish,” complained Mr. Rangel.

At the least, the disclosures betray that gross sense of entitlement that regularly befalls politicians. . . .

The powerful congressman has enjoyed his rent-stabilized apartments in Harlem — improperly using one as a campaign office — at about half market value. This is a $30,000-a-year boon, and the ethics committee must decide whether it amounts to a gift from a politically savvy landlord that would violate House rules. The panel must also weigh how badly Mr. Rangel violated official letterhead restrictions.

As a new Congress approaches with a thick docket of fiscal and tax measures, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi must see that no cloud hangs over Ways and Means while the chairman is under investigation. The Democratic majority arrived last year promising to “drain the swamp” of corruption epitomized by the previous Republican majority’s quid-pro-quo dealings with Jack Abramoff, the now-imprisoned superlobbyist.

Committee posts are not bestowed by voters. They are partisan privileges granted by leaders in Congress, and Ms. Pelosi must not cut slack for an ally. If Mr. Rangel refuses a temporary hiatus from his chairmanship, Ms. Pelosi should remove him permanently.

Read the entire article. There isin't a chance in hell that Rep. Rangel will step down, and only a slighter greater chance that Pelosi will force him to step down. The hubris of the left is massive and, the truth is, Demorcratic voters rarely hold their elected leaders to account for their missteps. Then again, its the voters in the middle who are going to be paying close attention this time around. Even the NYT gets that.


shoprat said...

You really can't do much about corruption beyond limiting it and prosecuting it as and when you catch it. It's a truly non-partisan problem rooted in human nature. Prosecute corrupt members of both parties.

Sadly the Donks see corruption as a Republican phenomenon and as a result their people get away with far more.

Ymarsakar said...

My solution to corruption in bureaucracy was to hang the bureaucrats.

My solution to corruption in politicians is to make them penniless.

Very merciful, if I may say so myself.

Ymarsakar said...

Politicians should not serve jail time or be publicly ostracized or character assassinated. They just need to give the tax payers their money.

We'll see how wealth redistribution works then and how popular it is when Rangel's total assets are liquidated and given out to all 300 million Americans as a check.