A picture of Representative Charles B. Rangel
Charles R.
Democrat NY 13

About Rep. Charles
  • Congressional Black Caucus

    by Representative Charles B. Rangel

    Posted on 2014-01-08

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    RANGEL. Let me first thank the gentlelady from California for carrying this torch during a time that there seems to be such a lack of sensitivity to the poor. As with Lyndon Johnson, there was a concentration of those people who vote--that is, the middle class--and somehow even now, 50 years later, we have a lot of concerns, and rightly so, about the middle class, but somehow the poor have just been written off. And the gentlelady from California and our minority leader together have reminded us that we have a basic obligation here that if you want to take care of the country and our spiritual needs, the poor cannot be excluded.



    So in listening more recently to the words that President Johnson spoke in the joint session in 1964, it was really an act of courage to talk about something that too many people seemed to be embarrassed about, and the fact is that we had a national obligation to take care of the lesser of our brothers and sisters.

    [[Page H50]] Today we can take for granted Medicaid, Medicare, expansion of Social Security, incentives for our children, and earned income tax credits. All of it was done not as Blacks and Whites or northerners and southerners or Democrats and Republicans, but with a spirit that that was a part of the reason that we were sent to Congress, to make this a stronger Nation.

    {time} 1645 And it is interesting how moved so many people in the world were to hear the breath of fresh air coming from Rome and from the Pope, not a message to Catholics but a message to the world in pointing out that we have a responsibility to God, to thank Him or Her for what has been given to us; but, more importantly, to follow those Biblical guidelines that say that we have an obligation to think in terms of the lesser of our brothers and sisters. And so whether we are seeking warmer clothes or assistance during times of ill health, it seems to me that we have this political and we have this spiritual need.

    Finally, I would like to say to the gentlelady and those listening, I think from a patriot's point of view and from an economist's point of view and from a nationalist's point of view and from a national security point of view, this Nation cannot survive with expansion of the poor, the poverty of the middle class, and the wealthy just accumulating wealth by standing by doing nothing.

    What made this country great are not the rich and the poor, but those people who can hope to achieve for their children through education and hard work, to achieve anything that is possible for humankind to do, and this is what built that Nation. And today, it is frightening as we see the disparity between the very poor and the very wealthy, to see that even talks about it would have Presidents and Members of Congress to be called socialists and, indeed, even the Pope. But the fact remains that unless we have people who have the ability to purchase, unless we have small businesses that are responsible for most all of the jobs in this country, unless we have people manufacturing and providing goods and services, then we don't have an economy.

    And so no matter which way you look at it, from a political or economic point of view, if our Nation is not going to succeed in terms of economic security, it can no longer be concerned with its national security and the leadership position that we hold in the world.

    So let me thank the gentlelady for constantly reminding us that this isn't a one-day job that we have to do. This isn't a Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Democrat, Republican issue. This is something that the world is watching what we do with our own, and hoping that once we get our act together, perhaps we can do more for the world.

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