November 16, 2006
Emily Lenzner, NPR


Asked of Tax Increases for Some, Replies, "Yes, Of Course"

Interview to be Broadcast on NPR News Morning Edition
Friday November 17

Washington, DC; November 16, 2006 Ė Congressman Charles Rangel (D-NY) said in an NPR interview that there would be "winners and losers" if and when the Bush Administration and Congress negotiate over major issues like tax reform.

In a wide-ranging interview taped for broadcast on NPR News Morning Edition, the presumptive incoming chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee indicated that he is willing to consider tax increases, and that he expects the White House eventually to do the same.

Rangel says he favors a program of tax reform, eliminating tax breaks and adjusting the Alternative Minimum Tax, a tax that applies to increasing numbers of Americans.

Asked if, under current conditions, tax reform means that some people's taxes would go down while others would "definitely go up," Rangel replied, "My God, what an honest question. Yes, of course."

The interview with Congressman Rangel airs tomorrow morning on Morning Edition. A transcribed excerpt is below and must be credited to NPR News Morning Edition. Audio of the interview will be available at after 10:00 AM ET Friday.

STEVE INSKEEP (HOST): One of the things you seem to be referring to is tax reform, which the White House has also talked about wanting to do. Is it fair to say that when you talk about tax reform, in this environment, what you mean is that some peopleís taxes will go down other peopleís taxes will definitely go up?

REP. CHARLIE RANGEL: Oh my God, what an honest question. Ö yes, of course. You cannot deal with any complex legislation - let alone trade, Social Security, tax reform - without having winners and losers. During the campaign the President and the Vice President made a big deal that just by being honest and saying everything is on the table they were saying, "There Rangel goes again. It means that tax increase is on the table." I accept the political rhetoric. I was being responsible, they were being totally political but the campaign is over. And I have every reason to believe that they dare not talk like that again because one of the big elephants in the living room that I'm ready to touch is a trillion dollar tax cut for the middle class.

INSKEEP: You're talking about changing the alternative minimum tax?

RANGEL: I'm talking about raising this as one of the issues that we as Republicans and Democrats... and the House, Senate and the White House collectively have to say that this group of people, these 23 million people, this tax was never, but never meant to be on their shoulders. What other tax provision, can you say exists there? So if you come in with the attitude that no one truthfully can challenge the validity of reforming this area of the tax code, then the problem is: where the heck are you going to get the money in order to do it? Well thatís why we're put on the committee. Thatís why the president doesn't want to be a lame duck, thatís why he wants to work with congress. I know for me, the voters said to the Democratic Party, "We're so disgusted and frustrated that we got to show in a big way how we can get rid of republicans." But you only get two years to show that you deserved the support we got. So I don't want to get in any contests, uh, with the White House. Uh, when I went to the Secretary of Treasury, I didn't ask him to come to... I hadn't even gotten my Ways and Means office yet. I do have a big office that the vice president has. But I didn't ask...

(Talking over each other)

INSKEEP: You're goingÖ you're going to take that borrowed office back?

RANGEL: I didn't ask them to come over here. I'm prepared to go where ever they are to get a feeling as to whatís important to them, thatís non-controversial that we can show the congress and the country that Republicans and Democrats on the Ways and Means Committee can and are anxious to work together in a bipartisan way. And only until we establish that working relationship and that trust can we even start thinking about tax reform, Social Security and Medicare.