At a time when America is facing the highest unemployment numbers in nearly three decades, Rep. Charles B. Rangel, New York Democrat, is the right man in the right place to help us meet this challenge. Congress and the press should withhold their judgment of him until all the facts have come out through the ethics investigation he himself initiated (“Rangel rakes in cash during island rum scrum,” Page 1, Tuesday).
America has long faced the challenge of moving people off unemployment and public assistance into the work force. More than 30 years ago, Mr. Rangel came up with an answer that, rather than relying upon a government spending program, used a public-private partnership that rewards employers who hire and provide on-the-job skills needed by the structurally unemployed.
His vision inspired him to create the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC). The WOTC targets certain populations with small but effective tax incentives for employers. Since its enactment a dozen years ago, the WOTC has helped more than 4.5 million people move off of public assistance programs and into gainful employment.
For more than three decades, Mr. Rangel has demonstrated that the government can do great things to help the poor become productive citizens. Given what he has done to help those whom the public education system failed, people owe him a fair shake as he faces questions about his conduct. This is a man who has served his country as a hero in Korea and as a public servant ever since.
Recent calls by Republicans in Congress come at precisely the wrong time. His record of distinguished national service warrants that he not be prejudged before the House Ethics Committee has completed its work. In addition, his track record of helping people enter the work force is needed more then ever.
CARL I. COHEN
National Employment Opportunity Network