Congressman Charlie Rangel of New York is one of the longest-serving members of the House of Representatives, having been in office since 1971. After years of confronting his own personal scandals-- which, ironically, included tax evasion-- Rangel took to Sean Hannity's show this week to discuss national controversies, like the debt and taxes.
But before the two got to the meat of the issue, they bickered at length over who had been avoiding whom.
"You have been dodging me because you were afraid I was going to beat you up on all the scandals you have been involved in. Why have you not been on the show?" Hannity asked.
"The record is clear, I haven't been invited....One of the first questions I was about to ask to you thinking I was going to throw you off guard is, why haven't you invited me, because I thought that there were a lot of things going on and changes here," Rangel responded.
"You are absolutely false. You were invited..."
Eventually, however, the pair got to the heart of the issues.
"All right. Here's the question," Hannity began, "do you really in your heart of hearts believe we are better off as a country with $5 trillion in new debt, 15 million more Americans on food stamps, more Americans depending on the government than ever before and this article that I pulled up earlier, which is that 40 percent of people's wealth, the American families' wealth has evaporated in the last three years? Are we better off?"
Rangel conceded: "...It is bad. It is not what we used to. We shouldn't be there. And the solution to all of this is just like in the family or a company. If you are spending too much, you cut back in spending and you raise your revenues. And that's it."
As the politically-savvy know, "raising revenues" often means "raising taxes" to those on the left, and Hannity endeavored at length to get a straight answer.
Watch the interaction, below (start around 1:22 to skip the introduction, where the two tussle over who had been avoiding whom):"I live in the great state of New York. And when I add my state taxes, my local taxes, my federal taxes, my county taxes, my property taxes and all the other hidden taxes, I pay 55 percent of what I make goes to the government. Am I over-taxed?" Hannity asked. "And then the President hits me and other people over the head and says, we are not paying our fair share. I think keeping 45 cents of every dollar, I think I am giving away too much to the government. Do you want more? How much do you want?"
When Rangel fell back on the party line of "inheriting" a crisis, managing an uncooperative Congress, and tax loopholes, Hannity fired: "Wait a minute...President Obama got everything he wanted. He had Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, majority in the House and Senate, he got his budget, his stimulus, his health care bill, everything he wanted in place. Here's what he said he would do, he said he would cut the deficit in half by the end of its four years in office. He has given us by far -- $5 trillion in debt. He called Bush unpatriotic for $4 trillion in eight years. He never got rid of earmarks, never read line by line, never got rid of lobbyists."
"Has he failed the American people by not keeping those promises?"