Commentary Magazine


Time to Turn up the Heat

The New York Times reports:

Representative Charles B. Rangel’s legal team is reviewing his tax records to determine whether the congressman received a homestead exemption on a house he owned in Washington while living in several rent-stabilized apartments in New York City.The situation is potentially troublesome for Mr. Rangel, a Harlem Democrat who is already the subject of a wide-ranging internal House investigation stemming from an assortment of ethical concerns.
. . .

Republicans have criticized Mr. Rangel, claiming that he has made a mockery of the Democratic Party’s promise to reform Washington’s political culture when it took control of the House in 2006. Republicans have demanded that he step down as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, which writes the nation’s tax laws and is one of the most powerful panels in Congress.

Granted the Republicans have had their hands full, losing another election and fighting among themselves, but this seems like it should be a bigger deal than it has been. The Chairman of Ways and Means is a tax scofflaw, and the Democrats don’t seem to be a bit concerned. If the not-so-new Republican Congressional leadership is intent on doing its job (curbing the worst excesses of the majority and gaining credibility), they should shine a bright spotlight on Rangel. And start asking why he remains in one of the most prominent Democratic leadership posts.