Sept. 22, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Heard on the Hill: We’re On to You

Senators, beware: The walls have ears. Two unsuspecting Senators on Tuesday shared their tricks for avoiding reporters — not realizing that one of the very scribes they were trying to dodge was under their noses.

An HOH tipster, whose reporter’s badge was covered by a coat, caught the following exchange between Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Mark Begich (D-Alaska). As the

two boarded an elevator near the Senate chamber on the second floor of the Capitol, Barrasso turned to his new colleague with a bit of advice on giving reporters the slip.

“That’s the way to avoid the press,” Barrasso said, as they both chuckled.

Freshman Begich revealed that he relies on his relatively unknown face to avoid pesky scribes. “Yeah, I just cover up my pin, like this,” he said, demonstrating with the sheaf of papers and manila folders he was holding. “If somebody comes up to me, I just act like a staffer and say, ‘You want that guy,’” he said, gesturing over his shoulder.

More laughter.

But going unrecognized sometimes has its downside. Barrasso told Begich the story of how he was sitting at his office desk late one evening when a Capitol Police officer came in and asked for his identification. After Barrasso identified himself, the officer apologized, explaining that officers sometimes find staffers lurking behind Senators’ desks late at night.

“Sometimes they just like to sit where ‘the man’ sits,” Barrasso quoted the cop telling him.

Rangel Rule of (Tax) Law. Tax season is well under way, and embattled Rep. Charlie Rangel — a man who has had, ahem, some trouble with the IRS — has inspired legislation that could have taxpayers everywhere jumping for joy.

And the New York Democrat isn’t taking it as a compliment.

Introduced on Wednesday by Rep. John Carter, the Rangel Rule Act would amend the tax code to allow any U.S. citizen who writes the phrase “Rangel Rule” on the top of their tax return to be exempt from penalties or interest on any back taxes they might have to pay.

The Texas Republican says he was inspired to pen the measure after learning Rangel hadn’t paid any penalties or interest on the $10,000 worth of back taxes he owed from rental income on a Caribbean property. While Rangel did eventually pay the back taxes, it remains unclear if he ever will pay any penalties.

And that doesn’t sit well with Carter. “The Ways and Means chairman shouldn’t be treated any differently than you should,” Carter told reporters, appearing alongside Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) at a press conference.

Aside from helping taxpayers, Carter argued the legislation will help stimulate the economy, as many Americans would be freed from their IRS debts. But it does beg the question: If Americans know they won’t get fined for not paying their taxes, what’s the point of even paying them?

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