“No Man’s life liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session”.

- attributed to NY State Judge Gideon Tucker

Friday, July 31, 2009

Charlie Rangel's Shameful Criminal Tax Cheating

Monday's Wall Street Journal lead editorial concerned New York Democratic Congressman Charlie Rangel's nauseating tax cheating, and how his party and the federal government has repeatedly looked the other way. It was a compilation of the many sordid aspects of this veteran Democratic Congressional incumbent. The sort of Representative who is a walking advertisement for term limits.

The Journal editorial began,

"Ever notice that those who endorse high taxes and those who actually pay them aren’t the same people? Consider the curious case of Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel, who is leading the charge for a new 5.4-percentage point income tax surcharge and recently called it “the moral thing to do.” About his own tax liability he seems less, well, fervent.

Exhibit A concerns a rental property Mr. Rangel purchased in 1987 at the Punta Cana Yacht Club in the Dominican Republic. The rental income from that property ought to be substantial since it is a luxury beach-front villa and is more often than not rented out. But when the National Legal and Policy Center looked at Mr. Rangel’s House financial disclosure forms in August, it noted that his reported income looked suspiciously low. In 2004 and 2005, he reported no more than $5,000, and in 2006 and 2007 no income at all from the property.

The Congressman initially denied there was any unreported income. But reporters quickly showed that the villa is among the most desirable at Punta Cana and that it rents for $500 a night in the low season, and as much as $1,100 a night in peak season. Last year it was fully booked between December 15 and April 15.

Mr. Rangel soon admitted having failed to report rental income of $75,000 over the years. First he blamed his wife for the oversight because he said she was supposed to be managing the property. Then he blamed the language barrier. “Every time I thought I was getting somewhere, they’d start speaking Spanish,” Mr. Rangel explained.

Mr. Rangel promised last fall to amend his tax returns, pay what is due and correct the information on his annual financial disclosure form. But the deadline for the 2008 filing was May 15 and as of last week he still had not filed. His press spokesman declined to answer questions about anything related to his ethics problems."

Amazing, is it not? Were this you or I, we'd be slapped with huge penalties or taken to court and jailed for tax evasion and/or nonpayment of taxes. The Journal piece then turns to a possible motivation for Rangel's clear-cut tax evasion,

"Besides not paying those pesky taxes, Mr. Rangel had other reasons for wanting to hide income. As the tenant of four rent-stabilized apartments in Harlem, the Congressman needed to keep his annual reported income below $175,000, lest he be ineligible as a hardship case for rent control. (He also used one of the apartments as an office in violation of rent-control rules, but that’s another story.)

Mr. Rangel said last fall that “I never had any idea that I got any income’’ from the villa. Try using that one the next time the IRS comes after you. Equally interesting is his claim that he didn’t know that the developer of the Dominican Republic villa had converted his $52,000 mortgage to an interest-free loan in 1990. That would seem to violate House rules on gifts, which say Members may only accept loans on “terms that are generally available to the public.” Try getting an interest-free loan from your banker.

The National Legal and Policy Center also says it has confirmed that Mr. Rangel owned a home in Washington from 1971-2000 and during that time claimed a “homestead” exemption that allowed him to save on his District of Columbia property taxes. However, the homestead exemption only applies to a principal residence, and the Washington home could not have qualified as such since Mr. Rangel’s rent-stabilized apartments in New York have the same requirement."

Thus, Rangel has been deliberately been playing fast and loose with various residency rules in order to maintain rent-controlled apartments in New York, lower cost residential space in DC, and evading Congressional rules, not to mention, again, taxes, on the interest-free loan for his problematic Dominican Republic villa.

By the way, how, again, does such a long-serving Representative amass enough wealth to buy such a rental property?

The whole thing is stomach-turning. Ironic, isn't it, that Rangel has, if I'm not mistaken, the same seat as disgraced Harlem Representative Adam Clayton Powell.

So long as charlatans and crooks like Rangel not only sit in Congress, but chair committees, swagger around pompously, having buildings in New York college campuses named for them while sitting in Congress, the public will continue to distrust this body of legislators.

The low regard and contempt in which American voters hold Congress is due to the body allowing lawbreakers such as Rangel to continue serving there, instead of time behind bars. So long as Rangel sits in the House, voters will rightly suspect anything the chamber does.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Why HSA's Are The Way To Go For Health Insurance

Yesterday I read "Theodore Dalrymple's" excellent editorial on the notion of a 'right' to healthcare in the Wall Street Journal. "Dalrymple" is the pseudonym of Anthony Daniels, a British doctor.

His argument that there is not such a thing as a 'right' to healthcare was persuasive. Daniels crystallized it in this passage,

"When I then ask my interlocutor whether he can think of any reason why people should not be left to die in the street, other than that they have a right to health care, he is generally reduced to silence. He cannot think of one.

Moreover, the right to grant is also the right to deny. And in times of economic stringency, when the first call on public expenditure is the payment of the salaries and pensions of health-care staff, we can rely with absolute confidence on the capacity of government sophists to find good reasons for doing bad things."

Daniels' observation immediately gave rise in me to a clear argument for partially-government-funded health savings accounts, or HSAs.

Suppose you give in to the notion that everyone in the US has a "right" to health care. But, you don't want to needlessly infringe on anyone's private rights to choose their health care providers, or what is treated, within a societally-agreed level of affordability?

What would you do to effect that? Easy.

You'd provide each person with a government-funded HSA. Every taxpayer would be allowed a credit sized to allow purchase of health insurance. Those taxpayers above a certain income threshold would get no further assistance. Those with no income would be given a voucher with which to purchase health insurance. Those below a threshold would be provided with an actuarially-determined payment into their HSA, in addition to the health insurance credit or voucher.

In this manner, everyone would be 'covered.' Everyone would have insurance, and those too poor to have money for deductibles or out of pocket health expenses would get money in an HSA, to be used only with approved medical care providers.

Once someone has used up their government-provided HSA dollars, they are on their own. We can't provided unlimited health care to everyone. But family and friends could spend their HSA dollars for really sick relatives or friends.

Nobody would have their right to choose providers, or care, rationed by anyone else. And 15-20% of our economy, the health care sector, wouldn't be radically altered to allow for a government-run system.

Thus, a wealthy country, like ours, could relatively easily provide real, cash health care assistance to those who need it, without changing private medical care systems.

Further, the expense has to be funded in cash, so Congress would have to place the expense of this assistance on budget. The public would see just how much its compassion really cost.

Let's see, private rights not infringed, an entire economic sector not taken over by government, poor people provided dedicated health care assistance.

Not a bad way to provide healthcare, if you really think it's a "right" we must guarantee. Clearly superior to the 1,000+ page pig of a bill being rammed through Congress by Wonderboy and his minions.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Rahm Emanuel's Blue Dogs Bite Back

Monday's Wall Street Journal featured a piece on the 'Blue Dog' Democrats in the House who have become a major thorn in the sides of California Representatives and uber liberals Frisco Nan Pelosi and Henry Waxman.

The article details how Rahm Emanuel, now Wonderboy's chief of staff, personally devised the strategy, when heading up the House Democrats' re-election efforts in 2006, of recruiting moderates in key districts to run as Democrats.

Now, that strategy is coming back to bite him, and his party, in the form of some 50+ Blue Dogs. The name, of course, precedes Emanuel. It was, according to the article, derived from pictures in once-Democrat Billy Tauzin's office.

But Emanuel thought he was being clever when he deliberately ran moderates. And, in his own way, he admitted that liberal Democrats can't get elected in sufficient numbers of districts to form a majority in even their own party.

Thus, the common sense and self-preservation instincts of this group are now causing the healthcare stampede being foisted on American voters by Pelosi and Wonderboy to grind to a halt.

It's poetic justice, isn't it? The very freshman and second-term moderate Democrats who Emanuel personally recruited are now blocking his boss' biggest move toward socialism in America.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Senate Democratic Fear On Healthcare

I saw an interview on Friday with a Democratic Senator in some leadership position, vowing to cancel the Senate's recess and force its members to stay to pass some sort of healthcare bill, simply on Wonderboy's orders.

The most amazing illustration of the Senator's misguided loyalty and sense of obligation was when he solemnly intoned that, if the Senate dared to go home without a healthcare bill's passage, voters would say they had shirked their responsibility and gone on vacation with work left to do.

What a crock!

By now, nearly every voter in America wants the opportunity to do two things before that bill is passed. One, they want to know if their Representatives and Senators understand it, let alone even actually know what's in it. Two, they want to express their profound concern over a bunch of politicians with practically no special knowledge of healthcare messing with 15% of the nation's economy, and the most sensitive personal services and decisions any Americans will ever make.

This Democrat has totally corrupted his values and sense of duty as a Senator. His duty is not to the president, or his party, but to his constituents. Most of whom, I am sure, are concerned about this piece of crap the Democratic Congress calls healthcare 'reform.'

Shame on him, and them, for worrying more about party unity and shoving some unread, omnibus legislation through by August, rather than going home and listening to voters on this important issue.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Wonderboy Inflames Racial Tensions

The story involving Wonderboy and the run in between police and a Harvard professor in Cambridge is just too good to be true, isn't it?

Mr. post-partisan and racial healing criticized police for doing their job, and instinctively sided with the black person in the case.

I guess Wonderboy is showing us how it's done in the new America, isn't he?

Then, to add insult to injury, after putting his foot in his own mouth, he alleged that, because his statements caused such an uproar, it proves that racial tensions still exist.

Just incredible. This guy can't let well enough alone and simply believe in peoples' inherent goodness.

As president, his comments make extra waves, but our First Rookie still thinks he can serve via sound bites, speeches and press conferences. I don't think the real gravity of office has hit him yet.

Maybe it never will.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

When Do Members of Congress Become Experts?

Have you noticed how members of Congress treat each other as if they are experts on various topics?

Once you've elected someone from your Congressional District to the House, or from your state to the Senate, they draw assignments on committees. Give them a few years, and suddenly they act like they actually know more about the area, or how it should be operated, than anyone else.

Doddering Chris Dodd of Connecticut, who took bribes from Countrywide Finance while chair of the Senate committee overseeing housing finance, tosses off numbers and comments as if he actually knows how housing finance works. And what is best for the country.

Trouble is, over the objections and efforts of the Bush administration to rein in Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, Dodd and Congressman Barney Frank collaborated to let the two GSE's load up on questionable mortgages and issue securities backed by them.

Who died and left California Congressman Henry Waxman an authority on climate and energy policy?

My point is, these people run against someone else, and win, as ordinary citizens. Then they go the Hill and, a year later, come back changed.

Suddenly you, the voter, are someone to be gamed and conned. They have their Congressional careers to which to tend. They must curry favor for preferred, powerful committee assignments and, eventually, seniority which leads to chairing a committee.

Thus, we are presented with a Democratic healthcare bill crafted by ideologues more focused on gathering power to the federal government than effectively modifying government involvement in healthcare in order to foster more individual choice, lower costs, and affordable options for health insurance for the poor.

Does anyone think that the average Congressional member actually knows how to legislate for a better US healthcare system? I don't.

If that's what was truly desired in Congress, I'd expect a joint House and Senate panel to be spending weeks, if not months, taking testimony from various industry participants, think tanks and academics, in order to hear the greatest number of ideas on what could be done to fix some of the generally-agreed-upon problems with US healthcare.

That's not what we're getting. There are a few exceptions, such as Rony Wyden of Oregon and Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. But for the most part, few members of Congress know enough, or are even smart enough to tackle this problem alone.

Then you overlay our First Nitwit's demand that 'something' be done before the Congressional recess in August, and you have mass stupidity.

Just when did any of these morons become 'experts' on anything?