Rangel on SOTU: ‘I Never Felt More Proud of Being an American’

By Elizabeth Harrington | February 13, 2013 | 9:59 AM EST

Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

(CNSNews.com) – Reacting to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) said he has “never felt more proud of being an American.”

“It was, tonight was everything I think the President was elected for in the first instance,” Rangel told CNSNews.com on Capitol Hill following the Tuesday night speech.  “And the things that he’s talking about is what makes the country great, and that is the middle class, providing for education, taking care of the environment, talking about peace and not war.”

“And so I’m very, very excited,” he said.  “It’s going to be a rough job because the depth of the partisanship still exists, but I think what the president has really done is gone into people’s living rooms tonight and spoke directly to them -- not as Republicans, as Democrats, but as Americans.”  “I think it’s gonna work,” Rangel added.

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Recommending at least 29 new government programs during his address—ranging from infrastructure to preschool—Obama said, “Nothing I'm proposing tonight should increase our deficit by a single dime.”

CNSNews.com asked Rangel about Obama’s statements, given the fact that he has presided over four straight years of $1 trillion deficits and proposed additional stimulus spending during the fiscal cliff negotiations in December.

“Do you think President Obama is serious reducing the deficit and the debt?” CNSNews.com asked.

“Of course,” Rangel said.  “When a president gets up there and says that it’s going to be revenue neutral, doesn’t cause for any increase in cost, then obviously people are going to hold him to it. We should find out tomorrow morning.

“But there are so much dollars in the tax code, so much waste that’s there, so many loopholes that are there, and we can bring more efficiencies as it relates to how we really provide health care,” he said.  “Already there’s been a report from the Congressional Budget Office that because of Obamacare, we’re seeing reduction in the cost.

“And so if we keep going in the direction that we’re going, it just seems to me that in the next four, 10 years that we can really start talking about raising revenues instead of losing it,” Rangel said.

CNSNews.com then asked, “So raising revenues, increasing taxes more?”

“It’s an investment,” he said. “Well, if you call loopholes—closing loopholes—if you want to call that increases in taxes, that’s what a whole lot of people from the conservative part of Congress will do.

“But if we know that this is a waste of taxpayer’s money -- that people have even forgotten why this preferential treatment was given and this is especially so when you take a look at the hedge (fund) industry, when you take a look at the oil industry, you will see that they don’t pay their fair share of taxes.”