Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., went on the record this week saying that in his opinion "bias" and "prejudice" are fueling opposition to health care reform, according to a report by CBS News.
The volatile remarks came as the beleaguered lawmaker spoke at a health-care forum in Washington Heights, a community in his district.
Rangel charged that when critics complain that Obama is "trying to interfere" with their lives by advocating health-care reform, "then you know there's just a misunderstanding, a bias, a prejudice, an emotional feeling."
Rangel, who is presenting fighting ethical charges in the House that he failed to report significant income, went on to say: "Some Americans have not gotten over the fact that Obama is President of the United States. They go to sleep wondering, 'how did this happen?'"
The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee added, "We're going to have to move forward notwithstanding that."
According to a report in the New York Post, at that same forum, Rangel compared the fight for health-care reform to the fight for civil rights.
"Why do we have to wait for the right to vote? Why can't we get what God has given us? That is the right to live as human beings and not negotiate with white southerners and not count the votes. Just do the right thing," he said.
Reaction to the Rangel blasts was not long in coming, according to the Post report.
State Conservative Party leader Mike Long called Rangel's remarks "outrageous and outlandish," going as far as to suggest that the lawmaker was attempting to blow a smoke screen to dim his personal troubles with ethics investigators.
"Rangel is playing the race card. It's clear that the congressman is trying to galvanize the minority community that this is 'us against them.' It's going to backfire. A majority of people will see through this," Long said.
Rangel was quick to engage in damage control, insisting: "What I'm saying is, if you watch the town-hall meetings, people were angry and did not care what the answer was to some of their questions. They were angry with their member of Congress, period."
However, the backlash of reaction to Rangel’s words and alleged misdeeds has continued.
According to the CBS report, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently commented: "Charlie has been very helpful to this city in terms of doing things that we've asked him to do, bringing home the bacon if you will and I hope that he's done nothing wrong."
But others have been less patient.
Councilman and mayoral candidate Tony Avella blasted this week: "It will also mar his effectiveness in representing Harlem in Congress. He should not stand for re-election."
The Washington Post also entered the fray this week editorializing: "Much is expected of elected officials. Much more is expected and demanded of those entrusted with chairmanships and the power that comes with them, especially when it involves the nation's purse strings. From all that we've seen thus far, Mr. Rangel has violated that trust continually and seemingly without care."
The often colorful Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., a critic of ObamaCare, chided Rangel, saying: "Charlie Rangel knows that race has nothing to do with the health-care debate. He should not be implying that race has anything to do with it."
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