Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Washington Elite--Meet Charlie Rangel

A few years back I began working on a book about tax policy history in America entitled The Power to Destroy. The title comes from a ruling by John Marshall, the fourth, yet arguably the most important Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. In McCulloch v. Maryland, which involved the question of taxation and the rights of the states to tax the federal government Marshall wrote: “…the power to tax involves the power to destroy.”

In a section discussing out of control Washington spending I wrote: In FY 2008, the U.S. Congress pushed through $17.2 billion in pork attached to 12 appropriations bills. There were many moments to cherish but we will consider but one here; certainly not the biggest earmark but one of the most interesting.

Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), a nineteen term representative, asked for and got $1,950,000 for a library and archives at the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at The City College of New York. In other words Congressman Rangel received $1.95 million dollars of my money and yours to finance a little library named for himself at a college in his district. He was challenged in his request by a mere two term republican from California, John Campbell who said, “You don’t agree with me or see any problem with us, as members, sending taxpayer funds in the creation of things named after ourselves while we’re still here?” Rangel did not. He responded, “I would have a problem if you did it, because I don’t think that you’ve been around long enough that having your name on something to inspire a building like this in a school.”

Today Congress voted to censure Mr. Rangel. By all reports he is a likable man but that is no excuse for his abuse of the trust bestowed on him by the American people. It's also no excuse for the cavalier way he has used taxpayer money.

The Wall Street Journal writes: "During the debate, Mr. Rangel sat slumped in a chair on the House floor as fellow lawmakers said his misconduct had dishonored them all. The 80-year-old Democrat who has represented Harlem for 40 years was found to have misused congressional perks, failed to pay taxes on some income for 17 years, failed to report assets properly for a decade and misused a rent-stabilized apartment as a campaign office" (WSJ).

Any one want to venture a guess as to what would happen if we failed to pay taxes on some of our income for 17 years...?

I know! I know!

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