Monday, January 25, 2010

Rangel Takes the Lead with Haiti Tax Bill

Last Week Was an Amazing Week

On Tuesday, the Democratic Party suffered a major set-back in the race for the Massachusetts seat in the US Senate held for decades by Ted Kennedy.

Harold Ford and Andrew Cuomo continue to move toward challenging fellow Democrats for the US Senate and for Governor against our friend Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (the US Senate's youngest member and perhaps the member with the brightest future) and Governor David Paterson, Respectively.

Errol Louis summed up the state of the Harold Ford for Senate effort in yesterday's New York Daily News.
Harold Ford's problems in trying to unseat Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand go way beyond his amusing, near-total ignorance of New York's geography, culture and politics. The doors shutting in the face of the newcomer from Tennessee are being slammed by activists who have every right to wonder where Ford has been the last few years, as ferocious battles over serious issues were taking place.

Cuomo is much better positioned to challenge our Governor than Ford is positioned to challenge our Senator, and Cuomo is expected to announce his intention to seek the Governor's Mansion at the end of March. The poll numbers and campaign war-chest figures make Cuomo the favorite at this time, but the primary is eight months away.
In the latest polls, Cuomo has a 64% job approval rating compared with Paterson's 31%. Cuomo also has $16 million in his war chest, while the governor has just $3 million.

Last week, Haitian relief efforts continued, and despite the passage of more than a week since the devastating earthquake hit Haiti, survivors were rescued as late as yesterday.

As New York's rescue team in Haiti returned to us, House Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel made the most of his persuasive position as the leader of the tax-writing committee in the US House to bring additional support to the Haitian relief efforts.

Rangel to the Rescue

Last week, the US House of Representatives passed unanimously a bill proposed by Charlie Rangel to accelerate the deduction, for tax purposes, of charitable contributions made to support Haiti. While charitable contributions made in 2010 would typically be available to taxpayers to reduce taxable income only when filing taxes in 2011 (April 15, 2011 would be the filing deadline), Chairman Rangel convinced the US House to allow taxpayers to deduct 2010 charitable contributions from their 2009 taxes if the contributions are made before March 1, 2010. The impact is obvious. By allowing taxpayers to take advantage of tax deductions twelve months earlier than would typically be permitted, Chairman Rangel is making financial support of the Haitian relief efforts more economically attractive and, thereby, driving increased giving to the Haitian people during this difficult time in the their country's history.

The US Senate followed Chairman Rangel's lead and passed his bill last week by a voice vote. It now heads to the White House for the President's signature before becoming law.

We can add the people of Haiti in 2010 to the long list of individuals and groups that have benefited from the extraordinary leadership of Chairman Rangel. Let us hope that our fellow Americans, who have been quite generous with regard to Haiti, are inspired by the accelerated tax benefits to be even more generous during this time of need.

Correcting NYC Corrections

NYC is now investigating why it hired a convicted criminal who led a robbing and shooting spree (that resulted in a death) as a teenager to be the firearms instructor for the NYC Department of Corrections. The same firearms instructor is now being investigated for buying illegal weapons. We should keep a careful eye on this process to see if the Bloomberg Administration has a double standard.

When Plaxico Burress shot himself in the leg accidentally, the Mayor demanded that he be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. He was sentenced to jail time, despite so many New Yorkers' views of his crime as victim-less. In the case of the NYC Department of Corrections, a violent gun incident in the life of a city employee seems not to have prevented him from being the firearms instructor. We'd like to imagine that we'll find that we have uncovered an honest mistake, but the record suggests that we're just finding new evidence of the injustice of the Bloomberg approach.

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