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Joining me now is legendary Congressman Charlie Rangel of New York.
Congressman, welcome to the show.
REP. CHARLIE RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: Thank you, Doctor.
DYSON: Speaker Boehner is finally reconvening the House. But is this just
so much posturing? Is there anything substantive that can get done?
RANGEL: Something could happen. But you realize that some of the people
that he can`t get support of have already been defeated and refuse to
accept it. There are a lot of Republicans in the House of Representatives
that wanted Obama beaten, and they cannot believe that some of them got
Obama really has tried, and he`s shaking up his base a little bit by
reaching out to these people. But the truth of the matter is that I don`t
see how Speaker Boehner could stay in Ohio with the Senate in Washington,
the president in Washington, and he`s given us 48 hours` notice.
Now we have it. I just hope that he has the courage to say he`s going to
lose some of his people and do what`s good for the country and not for his
DYSON: Well, you mentioned him shaking up the base -- that is President
Obama -- a bit.
DYSON: He seems to be more willing to be self-critical and to shake up his
own affiliations and alliances than do the Republicans. But do you fear
that he might go too far? Are Democrats fearful that the president will
compromise too much, or do you think he should really take advantage of the
bully pulpit that was given him with re-election?
RANGEL: Well, we really felt a little embarrassed that the president went
there with the CPI -- that`s the cost of living and adjusting -- because
with all of this debate if you take the poorest of the poor people, those
that are living on Social Security and believe they should be the target,
and knowing you`re negotiating with someone that`s trying to protect the
top 2 percent of the people, it`s kind of hard for just rational people to
go along with that. And, of course, under no circumstances can a lot of
people understand $250,000. The president kicked it up to $400,000. And
Boehner said go to the devil, it should be a million dollars.
And so, we hope at some point the president`s going to realize that he`s
not dealing with people that are sincerely dealing with him and get back to
what he campaigned for.
DYSON: Well, are the Republicans at all concerned that the nation must
look on them protecting the interests of the super wealthy and those with
deep pockets and big spending, protecting them at all costs, especially at
the risk of hurting the working poor and the middle class? Are they not
ashamed? Or do they not fear the perception that they`re really for the
rich and not for the average working person out here?
RANGEL: Yu know, Doctor, when they said they wanted to get rid of Obama at
any cost before the election, I thought it was just campaign rhetoric. But
when the debt ceiling came and they said they were prepared to allow the
fiscal integrity of the United States of America to go down the tube, that
was a game of chicken I`ve never heard of in all of my years in politics.
How much could they hate the man or hate his politics or be so insensitive
to the poor that they would tell the entire world that the United States is
not prepared to pay its obligations?
RANGEL: And that taught me a lesson which we`re learning now. How far are
they willing to go to you hurt the United States of America? And when is
it not going to be party politics but what is good for our country?
DYSON: Well, let`s listen to Senator McConnell -- more of what he has to
say, because his words haven`t provided much comfort to those who feel that
the Senate should be serious in its obligation to the American people.
Let`s take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCONNELL: As I indicated, the president called me and probably called
others last night. My impression is he would like to see if we can move
forward. We don`t have very many days left. And I`ve indicated I`m
willing to enter into a discussion, see what the president may have in
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DYSON: Now, McConnell said, you know, look, the president should have been
talking like this months ago. Well, you were trying to unseat him. That
was your major obligation. You told us that.
Now that you`re back on board here, does this sound like something sincere?
Or is this more posturing, do you think?
RANGEL: Only his campaign manager knows for sure. You know, he has -- he
has a serious threat as relates to his re-election ability, and Boehner has
a serious problem when it comes to being re-elected speaker. I have to
admit as a politician, you start dealing with re-election, you`re dealing
with some very serious emotional problems.
RANGEL: And I just hope that as we go home, we`ve been home for the
holidays, we listen to the religious leaders, the political leaders, the
people who are really dependent on Social Security and health care -- if we
listen to the people who put us in office and those who supported the
president, we should be rational in coming back to the table and trying to
hold on to this much credibility if we have any left at all and get this
DYSON: There it is -- rational and perhaps even rational exuberance like
the market. Congressman Charlie Rangel, thank you so much, my friend.
RANGEL: Thank you, Doctor.
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