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Editorial: Raising a Ruckus over Rangel

Amongst the myriad of pork-laden bills that have arisen in Congress in recent weeks, at least one actually favors the citizenry and would help narrow the gulf between American people and the “more equal” political elites in Washington.

HR 735, proposed Wednesday by Texas Republican Congressman John Carter, would eliminate all IRS penalties and interest for any overdue paid taxes for all Americans. Not surprisingly, the bill bears the moniker, “The Rangel Rule.”

Unfortunately, the bill stands little chance of becoming law, especially given the hostile Democratic environment in the nation's capitol and the even greater hostility towards the bill from its own namesake, the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee—and tax evader extraordinaire.

The underlying point of Rep. Carter's proposed bill is “to open the discussion” regarding certain politicians and their tendency to elevate themselves above the law. As Rep. Carter said:

“I don't think it's wrong for us to start having a free discussion in Congress and with a certain amount of humor in it about how should people be treated in Congress.”

And Rep. Carter couldn't be more spot on—although the situation is anything but humorous.
The discussion that desperately needs to be had is one that the mainstream media has largely avoided. For far too long, politicians like Charlie Rangel and now Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner have regarded themselves as above the law on issues of taxation and ethics.

For starters, Mr. Rangel is up to his neck in legal malfeasance. Among other issues, he's been outed for failing to pay thousands of dollars in taxes on $75,000 of income that he earned from an apartment building in the Caribbean, for controlling a number of rent-controlled apartments in his hometown of Harlem, for giving a donor to his center a significant tax loophole in exchange for hefty donations, and more.

Likewise, Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner knowingly evaded paying his payroll taxes for years while working at the IMF.

Significantly, neither Mr. Rangel nor Mr. Geithner has faced any serious consequences for their corruption. That's right, though they have since paid any outstanding taxes, they have not faced any penalties, interest, or punishment in any form.

And so, under HR 735, everyday Americans would receive the same special privileges of unpunished tax evasion and legal circumvention that elitist Washington politicians relish. Directing his ire at Rep. Rangel (and Secretary Geithner indirectly), Rep. Carter put it thusly:

“Your citizens back home should have the same rights and benefits that come to you as a member of congress. You shouldn't be treated any differently under the law than your citizens back home.”

It's time that the politicians in Washington are held to the same rigid standards as the American people themselves. It is insulting as it is absurd that the “rule of law” need not apply to the lawmakers themselves.

With all the news about pork these days—and messengers Rangel and Geithner refusing to walk their own talk—it is hard not to be reminded of the elitist pigs of Animal Farm fame. In America, no one should be “more equal” than others—especially not those who prance about describing themselves as “public servants.”


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