My US Representative John Carter has written a bill that kinda sums up the entire Republican party: what's wrong with it, what it's wrong-headed attitudes are and it's general level of snark. Here is the actual wording of the bill:
"Any individual who is a citizen of the United States and who writes 'Rangel Rule' on the top of the first page of the return of tax imposed by chapter 1 for any taxable year shall be exempt from any requirement to pay interest, and from any penalty, addition to tax, or additional amount, with respect to such return"
Screw up on your taxes, intentionally or not, and cover your ass by writing "Rangel Rule" on the form. Supposedly, this is a reference to the "Hobby Rule" Carter insinuates is in common usage in Texas. It refers to former Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby who was arrested for DUI but released when his lawyer arrived and pointed out his high status. Carter claims that lawyers are using the Hobby Rule to spring their clients on drunk driving to this day (Hobby was Lt Gov from 1973-1991). His logic is since this is "standard practice" in Texas, which is so much BS, then we should let the average American off of tax invasion or tax fraud just like Charlie Rangel.
This is just so much political grandstanding, Carter has no intention of supporting this into law. In fact, the bill got sent to the committee of which Rangel is chair. It's all about making a point. The amazing thing is there are people out there that think this is a great idea. What they don't get is that he's just grandstanding. I'm all for punishing those who misfile, "forget" to pay taxes or otherwise defraud the government. I think the IRS gets a little bit heavy handed in the way it deals with people- wage garnishments, endless penalities, etc. Changing how the IRS deals with underpayment and fraud is a different subject. There should not be one law for the rich or politicians and one for everyone else. However, Carter is attacking this serious subject in a facetious manner that only makes himself, his state and his party look stupid.
There seems to be a sense in Washington, no matter who sits in the White House, that by simple fact of being elected to Congress you have priviledges and entitlements that exceed the job title and excuse you from obeying the law. That's ridiculous. And as long as each party sees the righteous calls for resignation and legal action against their members as being politically motivated, they will always rally to the defense of their colleagues, deserved or not.
Whether Rangel intentionally defrauded the government or made an honest mistake doesn't matter. The IRS doesn't care how I made the mistake, it only sees the mistake. The same should be true for every American, high or low. When the Congress has no respect for the laws that it is creating and has created, it creates a lack of respect for their office. They forget that respect must earned, not given blindly.