Earlier today, President Barack Obama held a press conference to decry the upcoming sequestration–steep automatic budget cuts set to occur in just ten days unless a debt deal is reached–as a “meat cleaver” that will cut essential services and harm the military. And in a subsequent MSNBC interview, veteran Harlem Congressman Charlie Rangel weighed in on the topic and took his criticism even further, declaring the entire country “is embarrassed by this whole thing.”
“Before it was, ‘Protect the top 1 percent and don’t increase their tax rates.’ Now they’re saying, ‘If anything else is wrong with the tax system, don’t correct it if it means raising revenue,’” Mr. Rangel said, characterizing and dismissing the Republicans’ negotiating position. “That doesn’t make any sense!”
Arguing that the United States’ federal government has already “failed,” Mr. Rangel urged the public to look past the negotiations between Senator Majority Leader Harry Read and House Speaker John Boehner. Instead, he called on the country’s civic and economic leaders to take the initiative in their own hands.
“What I’m saying is that it is too important to leave to 535 people. I say that the chambers of commerce, the ecumenical councils, the religious leaders, this is their country and they’ve given it to the Congress to act in an orderly manner,” he explained. “And the Congress has failed. We can’t run around blaming Reid and Boehner. What we have to do is blame the members of Congress and blame them by name and not necessarily party. I think it’s abundantly clear where the snag is. Everyone knows it. But I don’t want it to make it look that partisan. The question is, ‘Can we avoid this if people get together?’”
Mr. Rangel was particularly adamant about how American military personnel would view a negotiations breakdown from overseas.
“America deserves better,” he concluded. “And our fighting men and women, to have them overseas putting their life on the line for this great country, and listening to these squabbles and these petty fights that they’re having. That is un-American in every sense of the word.”