Congressman Charlie Rangel, whose district I lived in when I called Manhattan my home, has decided that the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee (instrumental in formulating federal tax policy) doesn’t necessarily need to obey the U.S. tax law he shapes.
Despite mounting tax offense charges on the federal, state, and local levels, and even in the wake of some backroom prodding by a very nervous Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Rangel has refused to step aside as HWMC chairman, even as a temporary measure until his legal problems clear up a bit.
Add Rangel’s problems to Sens. Chris Dodd’s and Kent Conrad’s special treatment on mortgages by a subprime lending CEO (and Dodd’s subsequent claims of serial ignorance on the circumstances thereof), and Sen. Joe Biden’s coziness with credit-card company MBNA (on whose behalf he lobbied hard for a lopsidedly pro-creditor bankruptcy bill at a time when his son worked for MBNA as a consultant). Juxtapose these folks with Republican senator Ted Stevens, currently so mired in local sweetheart deals and weird-smelling favors that he’s now been indicted on corruption-related charges — under the cloud of which he is now, incredibly, running for re-election in Alaska.
This post is not meant to cast either party’s congressional caucus as sleazier than the other. I’m just curious as to which party’s mouthpieces will have the chutzpah to be the first to play the “culture of corruption” card in a play for votes this year. I’m taking bets.