It's about time that Charles Rangel (D-NY) steps down from his post as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. It is really perverse that the man who heads up the House's most powerful committee (the one that writes tax legislation) should be a tax scofflaw himself. The New York Times reports today that he is temporarily giving up the gavel "in an attempt to avert a politically bruising fight over permanently stripping the gavel from his hands."
As you know the Ways and Means Committee is charged with writing tax legislation and bills affecting Social Security, Medicare, and other entitlement programs.
Rangel is accused of accepting corporate-sponsored trips to the Caribbean in 2007 and 2008. Further, and more troubling, the Times reports, "The ethics panel is still investigating more serious accusations regarding Mr. Rangel’s fund-raising, his failure to pay federal taxes on rental income from a villa he owns in the Dominican Republic and his use of four rent-stabilized apartments provided by a Manhattan real estate developer."
He also abused New York City rent control laws by renting four rent stabilized apartments and then using one of them for political purposes (as an office). That's against the rent control laws that require rent stabilized apartments to be used only as a primary residence. And, if you ask me, it's an abuse of power. (The major developer that owns the building in Harlem no doubt had to look the other way.) But then rent control is a serious policy flaw in New York City that gums up the pricing mechanism of apartments. Too often rich people get them and live at below-market rates. Why is government price-fixing of private assets even allowed at all? And how is that Rangel, who has a net worth of around $1 million, is able to possess such an apartment? It really is a crime.