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Rep. Charles Rangel Headshot

Still Mad As Hell

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I am particularly glad to see that the Multi-faith coalition, such as Catholics United, Judson Memorial Church and a range of other faith leaders have joined together to call attention to the Occupy Wall Street movement. The common faith tenets -- compassion, mercy, justice, human dignity, and caring for "the least among us" -- bring together disparate faiths to support a common cause. Our spiritual leaders have set their differences aside for the good of the American people. Why can't Republicans work with my Democratic Colleagues to do the same?

It's now been more than 300 days since the Republicans have taken over the U.S. House of Representatives yet they still haven't put forward a jobs plan. Meanwhile, the Occupy movement is spreading like wildfire because people are still mad as hell. What began in New York City has spawned new demonstrations in Washington D.C., Oakland, Houston, London, Sydney, and Tokyo among so many other cities throughout the U.S. and around the globe.

As the world takes note of people's frustration, income inequality remains unaddressed by many of our political leaders in this country. Clearly our religious leaders understand: they see this as the moral issue that it is. People are suffering. Americans are losing their jobs, homes, health care, and young people are unable to afford their education. Most disturbingly, 9 percent of Americans feel depressed because they're out of a job. That's why I support the Occupy protesters. With so many of my constituents in Manhattan impacted by the economic downturn, I understand their anger and frustration.

Getting people back to work should be the number one priority, but there are those in Congress who do not get it. Despite claiming job creation as their highest priority, House Republicans began the 112th Congress by threatening woman's reproductive rights, supporting callous budget cuts against teachers, and curbing bargaining rights of union workers across the Midwest.

Republicans have focused all their attention on defending the wealthy and defeating President Barack Obama's efforts to help our ailing economy. Their infamous Ryan Budget proposed an end to Medicare and was rightly rejected by our aged and vulnerable. They spent all summer threatening the full faith and credit of the United States to protect corporate tax loopholes and millionaires. And now they are tearing apart the American Jobs Act in order to steal the political credit from any job creating benefits.

Moreover, Republicans are more concerned with protecting the wealthy in the framework of the Super Committee. Deficit reduction is necessary to heal our country's long term fiscal challenges, but it shouldn't come at the expense of cutting Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. We have an obligation to help the aged, the poor, the sick, and the vulnerable.

Even the Republican Presidential candidates completely neglect to take notice of the underlying problems inspiring the Occupy movement. They may think Herman Cain's 9-9-9 plan or Governor Rick Perry's 20 percent "flat tax" would somehow solve our budget crisis, but in reality they make things worse. The 9-9-9 plan would generate less than $1.3 trillion in total federal tax revenue. That's only 9.2 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In contrast, 2007's tax revenue was 18.5 percent of GDP. In other words, the 9-9-9 plan would cut federal revenue in half. Under Gov. Perry's plan, the richest 1 percent would receive a tax cut of over $200,000, while the bottom 95 percent would pay an average of $2,900 more in federal taxes. Both of these tax proposals benefit the rich while they burden the 99 percent of Americans.

We should ask ourselves what kind of society we want to live in. If the Republicans' main concern is the next election, they should listen closely to the people at Occupy Wall Street and across the country. People are mad as hell right now. They need and demand jobs now. I hope that my Colleagues across the aisle would put aside their political ideologies and join me and Democrats in support of the President's American Jobs Act to put our country back to work.

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