What Would the Democrats Do?

Nov. 2, 2006 — -- What would the Democrats do if they take control of Congress? Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., offered his predictions to Sam Donaldson and Mark Halperin on ABC News Now's "Politics Live."

Rangel is currently the ranking member on the House Ways and Means Committee. If Democrats pick up six seats in next week's crucial midterm elections and gain the majority, Rangel would become chairman of the committee.

Donaldson suggested that Democrats seem to be all over the lot on how to handle the war in Iraq. Rangel countered, "The Democrats believe we should withdraw. ... This election is a referendum on the president, a referendum on the war. Once the pubic says that there is no place for a military victory, we have to find some way to take our young men and women out of harm's way."

If Democrats regain control, Rangel said the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney, and the president will have to work with the Congress and the American people to "make certain that we get the heck on out of Iraq."

Rangel was careful when pressed on what the Democrats would do about taxes if they regain the leadership.

Some Republicans believe Rangel and the committee would undo the Bush administration's tax cuts that are set to expire in 2010. "It doesn't make sense to be increasing people's taxes unless it's part of a bigger package," Rangel said, while refusing to pledge he would not raise taxes.

Instead, the possible future chairman of House Ways and Means diplomatically emphasized, "I will not be the powerful chairman. For us to succeed, it's going to take Democrats, Republicans and the administration has to be cooperative."

Rangel reiterated his feeling that the military draft should be reinstated. "I truly believe that if we had a draft system, we would never have our men and women in Iraq. Everyone wants to fight with someone else's children."

Rangel insisted that a new draft should be fair, with people from every part of society coming to a national public service.

Rangel, a decorated war veteran, responded to Sen. John Kerry's "botched joke" in which Kerry, D-Mass., made a connection between laziness and a lack of education to the soldiers in Iraq. Rangel defended Kerry's intentions. "He wanted to say something silly about the president," and castrated the administration for their response.

"The president was wrong, politically and in principle, to work up the military as though they were the brunt of this insult."

Halperin then referenced the recent verbal sparring between Rangel and Cheney, in which Rangel called Cheney a "son of a b -- ch." Halperin gave Rangel the option to either say one nice thing about the vice president or to predict how many seats the Democrats would win on Tuesday.

"Dick Cheney has married a very beautiful woman. I respect her," Rangel responded. "And God bless him, he's a lucky man."