I've no sympathy for Bernie Madoff, but some calls for justice verge on the ridiculous.
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Saying Bernard Madoff enjoys a "gilded penthouse incarceration," civil rights activist Al Sharpton led a rally outside the accused swindler's Manhattan home on Saturday urging equal justice for the rich and poor.
The Seattle times says:
Sharpton's own debts include $365,558 owed in New York City income tax and $931,397 in unpaid federal income tax, according to a lien filed by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) last spring. His for-profit company, Rev. Al Communications, owes the state an additional $175,962 in delinquent taxes.
Tax headaches are not new for Sharpton. The minister has been assailed throughout his career for running up big tax debts and failing to abide by rules governing his charities and election committees. He is perpetually being sued for failing to pay his bills.
Sharpton's reputation would seem to work against any challenger for the presidency, said CNN political analyst William Schneider. "He's seen as divisive, contentious, confrontational," Schneider said, "all the things the Democrats don't really need."
Charlie Rangel likes the idea of getting the rich to pay taxes, although his "solution" is cloaked in obfuscation::
A leading House Democrat has unveiled a long-awaited tax reform package, including a "fix" for the Alternative Minimum Tax that would cost $800 billion over the next 10 years.
To pay for it, Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D) proposes that married couples earning more than $200,000 pay a "replacement tax" of 4%, and 4.6% on income in excess of $500,000. Rangel says that the AMT is now affecting 23 million taxpayers.
Meanwhile, Rangel is not so good with his own taxes:
First there is the Washington Post's revelation that Rangel inappropriately claimed a tax break on his D.C. townhouse by claiming it was his primary residence. The five-year charade only netted the congressman from Harlem about $1,500, which is relatively small potatoes. But it nicely dovetails with two other Rangel escapades of late: That he failed to pay taxes on $75,000 in rental income from his luxury beach villa in the Caribbean because he—ahem—didn't know it was income; and that he scored several rent-stabilized apartments in New York, each of which he must claim as his primary residence. Taken all together, it looks like the top tax-writer in Congress is a tax cheat.
There may be a few Republicans in the same boat (I would welcome proof otherwise): frankly, our politicians (ALL of them!) are a sorry lot. But for a new administration that bases its credibility on "change" and "honesty" ... this is not a good start.