It took him a while--36 years--but Representative Charles Rangel, the Harlem Democrat, is finally one of the most powerful figures in Washington: chairman of the mighty House Ways and Means Committee, which originates all federal tax legislation. And if the 77-year-old Rangel has his way, your income taxes just might be going up.
"I can see how you can reach that conclusion," the blunt-spoken 18-term congressman tells Portfolio.com in an exclusive interview. "But I never would think about giving any reporter a quote from me that says 'Rangel says he's going to raise the tax rates for the rich.' I would never say that. I'm saying that what scares the hell out of so many people, especially those that are in hedge funds, is that I want to be able to say at the end of the day that it's a fair and equitable system that has the confidence of the taxpayers. And they say, 'He's coming after us. Goddamn it, that's what Rangel meant!'"