Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Charlie Rangel, Eliot Spitzer and Rank Hypocrisy

Charlie Rangel has been getting a lot of attention from the press with his taxes. He was forgetting to report rental income and abusing his congressional perks. I was ignoring all the stories . my first question when I read about an allegedly corrupt politician is to wonder who got mad at them. I've seen some really good people busted for chump change. I have seen people get hard time who I would vote for in a heartbeat

But Charlie Rangel committed a crime that is not in any criminal law books. It is the same crime that drove Eliot Spitzer from office. I am not talking about hanging out with shady ladies. I am talking about being tough on other people and cutting himself all the slack he needs. Eliot Spitzer used to make a show of leading businessmen through their front lobby in handcuffs to be booked for white collar crime. They used to be arrested on page one. But when they were let off with a "not guilty" verdict, their aquitttal was on page 47. Spitzer used to loudly trumpet his business ethics. He was notorious for going after others with a fine tooth comb. He drove Alan Hevesi out of office for haviing his terminally ill wife driven around town in a government auto. He wouldn't even let Hevesi reimburse the money.

When Spitzer had his own troubles, he was judged by the same standards he juded others by. Few shed tears at his departure.

Now it turns out that Charlie Rangel buried some pretty harsh "tax reforms" in the health insurance bill that has been so hotly debated. The New York Post reports as follows on the changes Rangel wants to enact for tax payers.

"The changes approved by the House Ways and Means Committee that Rangel chairs would strip away legal defenses and pile higher penalties on corporate and individual taxpayers facing IRS proceedings for what they claim are unintentional mistakes, experts said.

Rangel's bill would:

* Punish those who fail to alert the IRS to potentially questionable tax exemptions.

* Bar the IRS from waiving penalties against taxpayers who clearly erred in good faith.

* Double fines in certain circumstances.

"The bill raises penalties and eliminates many of the reasonable defenses that taxpayers have always been able to use when honest mistakes are uncovered," one lawyer told The Post.

In fact, the bill increases fines "in some cases even for honest mistakes," the expert added."

How would Charlie Rangel fare under his own bill? A lot of decent people in his own district would suffer from a level of harshness never before written into law. It is hard enough to debate a controversial health plan without weeding out provisions that are unrelated to health care and highly debatable in their own right. What are some of his tax "mistakes"? The New York Post reports as follows.

"In addition to $75,000 in rental income he failed to report to the IRS a few years ago, Rangel recently filed new papers revealing he neglected to disclose to Congress more than $1.3 million in income and $3 million in business deals between 2002 and 2006.

The Post reported last week that he also failed to pay taxes on property in New Jersey that he neglected for years to disclose he owned."

To be fair, he claims he is now paid up. This may be so, but he is getting a lot of slack that he would deny his constituents.

There are a lot of people who are harried and make honest mistakes in their taxes. Charlie Rangel wants to make it even more costly for such people to come clean. I used to think Charlie Rangel was a nice guy that made some enemies in high places, like Alan Hevesi, who was driven out of office by Eliot Spitzer.

Now that I read about his harsh and punitive tax provisions that he added to health care legislation, I realise that he lives in a world vastly different from his constituents. People are talking of stripping him of his Congressional Ways and Means Committee chairmanship.

I was ignoring his tax woes up until now. But it seems that he would fare very poorly if he had to obey his own legislation.After reading his harsh amendments to existing tax legislation that were buried in other legislation, my opinion has of Charlie Rangel has changed. There are a lot of politicians who made Rangelesque mistakes who I would vote for in a second. Charlie Rangel is not one of them. Sphere: Related Content

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