- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 6, 2009

President Obama and Congress have lost touch with American voters about their top concerns and must rid themselves of controversy and secondary issues to improve the economy and the war effort in Afghanistan, said Rep. Mike Pence, Indiana Republican.

“We can have these debates about a national energy tax and a government takeover of health care,” he said Tuesday. “But back home in Indiana, folks are saying the focus in Washington, D.C., should be on jobs — not more government, more spending, more bailouts and more borrowing.”

He even suggested Mr. Obama imitate Bill Clinton, who as president vowed “to focus like a laser beam” on fixing the economy.

Mr. Pence also said a major part of fixing the economy falls upon the House Ways and Means Committee, which cannot do its job as long as Rep. Charles B. Rangel, New York Democrat, remains the chairman.

Mr. Rangel faces a House Ethics Committee investigation into whether he failed to report million of dollars in extra income and business transactions.

In addition, the committee is deciding between two bills on rum taxes. And whichever wins or loses, Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands, is a major Rangel campaign contributor, as reported Tuesday in The Washington Times.

“There are so many accusations floating around Congressman Rangel at this time when the debate on economic policy is and should be center stage,” Mr. Pence told The Times’ “American’s Morning News” radio show. “We need leadership in the House Ways and Means Committee that is above reproach… . The time has come for Charlie Rangel to step down.”

Mr. Pence’s call for Mr. Rangel to resign from the committee, which oversees the IRS and the country’s tax code, comes as Rep. John Carter, Texas Republican, makes another effort to oust the congressman.

Mr. Carter is giving Mr. Rangel until Saturday to resign or he will again introduce a resolution to force his removal. He said the resolution is needed because House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, is blocking votes on the chairmanship.

Mr. Pence, a five-term congressman and House Foreign Affairs Committee member, also said he backs Mr. Obama’s war strategy.

“But the most important thing is for the president to focus on explaining to the American people the importance of this mission,” he said.

Mr. Pence said Republicans in Congress have the strongest allegiance to U.S. troops and seeing that they get enough resources to do their job safely.

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