Death and Taxes: Charles Rangel, 76

“I’m 76 years old. I don’t buy green bananas.” – Charles Rangel, Congressman – Harlem (D – New York)

ph2006102701603_wapo_rangel.jpgIt seems that Congressman Rangel has moved to the center of a Republican media blitz to instill more fear in the American people. I think the Republicans are the party of fear – and the Democrats are the party of desperation. You’ll vote according to your disposition. If you’re a fearful person who imagines Boogey Men at every turn – you’ll endorse a group of crooks who’ve sanctioned the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens in the name of 3,000 Americans. If you’re a desperate person, you’ll endorse a group of crooks who repeatedly say that they’re your only hope for a better life – even though they’ve never delivered. If you’re neither fearful nor desperate, you’re probably not an American – and you definitely don’t get most of your information from conventional sources.

With that said, the WAPO (a conventional source of information) is suggesting that Rangel has become the focal point of a Republican campaign to spotlight tax-and-spend Democrats. Republicans don’t have to worry too much. Rangel’s time in Congress has not yielded the types of benefits one might expect to accrue to a Congressional district. Harlem, home of Congressman Rangel, has grown tremendously in the past ten years, but he’s had precious little to do with it. Moreover, tax-and-spend Democrats have had even less to do with it. No, the growth is Harlem has been the result of a combination of factors which include crime reduction (under Democrat Dave Dinkins), tax incentives (under Republican city/state/national leadership), low interest rates, and a burgeoning group of black folk with net worth commensurate with property ownership in a historic and dynamic community.

The redistributive effects of Rangel’s tenure are almost invisible. He has never been received with the love of his predecessor – the powerfully effective and charismatic Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Still as a member of the Uptown Democratic Club, a distinguished Korean War veteran, a long-time fighter in Congress, Rangel has paid his dues. The question, though, for poor folks in his home district is, “To what end?”

Republicans would love to paint Rangel with the brush strokes of midnight – blacker than white folks greatest fears…but this tarring and feathering is not likely to stick – for Rangel no more fits the part of tax-and-spend savior than does the “Presidential Impersonator” in the White House.

Congressman Rangel is likely to wind up running the powerful House Ways & Means Committee, but he needs to hang on. Survival, however, may not be enough. Perhaps in addition to yellow bananas, some prune juice might augur the type of bowel and political movement required for his future position to have the impact so desperately needed in places like Harlem.

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