Friday, February 26, 2010

Most Ethical

Pictured at right is the Chairman of the House Ways and Means committee, in Nancy Pelosi's most ethical congress ever. Mr. Rangel has been having some problems of late. For a full summary see the ProPublica article. A little taste would include: abuse of New York's rent control laws, use of Congressional stationary to solicit funds for his foundation from companies with business before his committee, and failing to pay taxes on a Caribbean villa (ironic or par for the course for the chair of the House' tax writing committee.) I guess Democrats are conservative, in the sense that they don't like higher taxes after all.

Now the House ethics committee has laid a turd at Speaker Pelosi's doorstep that is going to give her trouble (and hopefully harm the chances of passing Obamacare through distraction.) Here is a little tidbit:

Ms. Pelosi did say she had not read the findings of the House ethics committee, which determined that he violated Congressional gift rules by accepting corporate-sponsored trips in 2007 and 2008. But she parsed the ruling a bit differently than the panel itself, saying it didn’t find that he had knowledge of the sponsorships himself. “And I think that’s an important statement they made,” she said.

The ethics report, however, said that while it had no evidence Mr. Rangel personally knew of the sponsors, “Representative Rangel was responsible for the knowledge and actions of his staff and the performance of their official duties.”

When the Democrats took the majority in the House in 2006, here is what Pelosi said:
"The American people voted to restore integrity and honesty in Washington, D.C., and the Democrats intend to lead the most honest, most open and most ethical Congress in history."
So now that the Speaker is faced with an ethical scandal, her response has been the typical stonewalling, obfuscation and outright lies we have come to expect from Washington. Certainly no better and probably worse than Republican responses to scandal. Even Moulitsas of DailyKos fame is calling for Rangel to give up his powerful Ways & Means chair. For an in depth analysis of why that isn't happening soon, you can read the Slate article here. But in summary, Rangel has too much power as a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus and Pelosi got burned by them over the Jefferson, I've got cash in the freezer, scandal.

The Republican party need to pound the Democrats on this issue daily. In these times, saving Rangel is a loser for Pelosi. Running against Pelosi and Rangel in purple districts seems like an easy winning strategy. Now I say this, not out of love for Republicans, they have yet to win back my trust, but because I hope for gridlock so that the Congress doesn't pass bad bills. It seems like some of the worst ideas to come out of Congress are when one party is in full control of Senate, House and Presidency. Clintoncare was launched with Dem majorities, as was Obamacare. The Republicans pushed through the moronic Medicare part B drug entitlement, so they aren't exempt. So I say, hooray for divided government.


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