Tancredo to Rangel: Will English-only help?

Rep. Tom Tancredo took the opportunity Wednesday to rub salt in Rep. Charles Rangel’s self-inflicted wounds, firing off an invitation to the powerful New York Democrat to co-sponsor legislation to make English the official U.S. language.

Rangel, who said Tuesday he won’t step down as chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, has been embroiled in a tax scandal over his failure to ante up on $75,000 income from a beachfront rental property in the Dominican Republic. Last week, Rangel blamed his woes on a failure to “break through the cultural and language barrier ” with Caribbean officials. “Every time I thought I was getting through, they started talking Spanish.” he said last Wednesday at a press conference.

Them’s fightin’ words for the lame-duck Tancredo, who staged an unsuccessful run for the Republican presidential nomination and seems to be serving out his term issuing press releases related to the English language and immigrant threat.

Over the past three months, the Littleton Republican has emerged from imminent obscurity to issue a call for California to cut service to “illegals,” to criticize the LPGA for repealing its English-only rule, to criticize John McCain for his amnesty leanings toward immigrants, and to “slam” Colorado Democrats for a fatal traffic accident in Aurora that involved an undocumented immigrant.

The latest missive from Tancredo’s pen starts out sympathetic:

Like many Americans, I have followed recent news coverage detailing your failure to report thousands of dollars in income derived from rental property. In part, you attributed this to the fact that much of the communication relating to the house was conducted in Spanish, making it difficult for you to understand the potential tax ramifications of your investment.

As with so many wide-ranging questions, Tancredo finds a familiar answer:

I am sympathetic to your concerns, and would like to invite you to co-sponsor legislation I introduced (H.J.Res.19) which would make English the official language of the United States.

Left unmentioned: Rangel would benefit more immediately from a few Berlitz lessons, as Tancredo’s resolution won’t have any sway in the Dominican Republic. Not to mention nearly half of Rangel’s constituents speak primarily Spanish , so the congressman could have found help crossing the language barrier close to home — a situation Tancredo’s measure would make less likely.

Undaunted by reality, Tancredo presses on:

While passage of this bill will do little to reform our hopelessly complex tax code — or assist you in escaping your current ethical dilemma – its passage may help ensure that future generations of Americans less wealthy than yourself can live in a country where they can use an ATM, call a customer service department, or shop at their local grocery store without having to find a translator or “Press 1 for English” as they must often do in the America of today.

No word late Wednesday whether Rangel planned to take Tancredo up on his offer.

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Ernest Luning

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