The Washington Times - August 8, 2011, 11:32AM

Rep. Charles B. Rangel, New York Democrat, said Monday the congressional fight over raising the debt ceiling has seriously damaged the country’s standing in the eyes of the world.

“What we have done is really an embarrassment to ourselves,” the veteran Democrat lawmaker said during an appearance on The Washington Times-affiliated America’s Morning News radio program.

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“Nobody would ever believe that a handful of people were willing to take Americans over the cliff in order to reach a political goal,” he said. “We look like a bunch of clowns.”

Mr. Rangel said it was too easy to pin blame on the tea party alone.

“The truth of the matter is, it’s the United States of America that scared the hell out of the investors.”

The congressman said the first step to fixing the country’s fiscal woes is tax reform that would bring in more revenue.

“If you have trillions of dollars in the tax system that you’re not collecting and any party says you shouldn’t reform the system and use the money to reduce the deficit, there’s something wrong with that picture,” he said.