Pandering to the Greedy Poor
By Doug Patton
March 30, 2009
The Sunday morning talk shows frequently serve as fodder for these columns. Sometimes I watch simply to sharpen my point of view. On other occasions, when I am searching for a topic or an angle, these shows are cathartic to the point where I find myself screaming at my television set. This was a scream-at-the-TV-week.
I was watching with my usual level of incredulity as Chris Wallace sought the opinion of yet another Democrat tax cheat, this time Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-NY, on Fox News Sunday. Rangel, who represents Harlem in Congress, serves as the chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, which writes all of this nation's tax laws. The irony here is that Rangel apparently sees no need to pay the taxes he himself owes. (If you are behind the curve on this, Google "Rangel's tax troubles" for details.)
Wallace asked whether the 90 percent tax rate - what Lawrence Kudlow has called a "vengeance tax" - passed by the House to penalize AIG bonus recipients might be extended to other companies.
Wallace: "Congressman, are you saying that if one of these private companies that didn't receive any government bailout (money) partners up with the government, starts buying these toxic assets, and they end up giving these multi-million-dollar bonuses, that you may come back and want to tax them?"
Rangel: "Well, I want to make it abundantly clear that what the private sector does in terms of rewarding people that - even if it appears on the outside that they don't deserve these types of reward or bonuses, as they call them - we'll take another look at that."
We'll take another look at that? This was the point at which I started screaming. Who do these people in Congress think they are? Do they honestly believe the American people have given them a mandate to create punitive tax law for each individual group they don't like?
But it got worse. Rangel continued: "But the truth of the matter is you don't do it with taxpayers' money, and that's where the House of Representatives is coming from under the direction of Nancy Pelosi. She says get our money, the taxpayers' money, back."
Now I was ready to throw something at Rangel's face on my tube! "Everything you idiots in Washington do is done with taxpayers' money, you lying old crook!" I yelled. "How about the nearly one trillion dollars you threw away on the so-called 'stimulus package,' which was nothing more than payback to your left-wing constituencies, and the president's? How about the taxes you owe? When will we see those paid?"
It was then that I realized what has happened in America. We have become a nation addicted to envy. The president made a whole campaign platform out of it last year: The rich don't pay their fair share. The rich have made out like bandits under the "Bush tax cuts." The rich get rich while the poor get poorer. It's the whining of America.
Conventional wisdom says that the rich are greedy. But greed is a condition of the heart, not the bank account or the ledger sheet. It is a sense of entitlement based in the covetous nature of humankind. It is a tendency that should be rejected, not embraced. Jealousy and envy were sins Christ warned man about 2,000 years ago. Today, however, we regard them as virtues, rights, entitlements. Greed can afflict the rich, the poor and everyone in between. However, it seems that the poor are especially susceptible to the siren song of manipulative politicians like Charlie Rangel and Barack Obama.
Rangel, who is black, once equated tax cuts with racism. "They used to say 'nigger' and 'spic,'" he spewed in 1995 when Republicans took over Congress, "but now they just say, 'Let's cut taxes.'" Rather than encouraging his constituents to be the best they can be, to access the tremendous opportunity of America, this merchant of resentment would rather sell poison snake oil than the liberating tonic of truth.
This is the bitter, corrupt old man the poor, deceived people of Harlem have elected to represent them in Congress for the last four decades. This is the charlatan the Democrats have chosen to run the committee that writes our tax law. This is the poster boy for the party that panders to the greedy poor.
Doug Patton describes himself as a recovering political speechwriter who agrees with himself more often than not. His weekly columns are syndicated by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. Readers are encouraged to email him at firstname.lastname@example.org/or to follow him on Twitter at @Doug_Patton.