Monday, August 16, 2010

Rosty dies

People forget that the amazing "Reagan tax cuts" came with a Democratically-controlled House (by a large margin)-- with a powerful (Illinois) Dan Rostenkowski at the helm of the Ways & Means Committee.

Rosty died about a week ago. Here's a wrap-up from the AP's Don Babwin (hat tip: C-J)...

As House Ways and Means Committee chairman, Rostenkowski was known as a consensus builder and a master of legislative tactics....

Rostenkowski's problems began in 1992 when a grand jury in Washington charged him with 17 counts of misusing government and campaign funds. The scandal forced him to step down as chairman and led to his 1994 defeat by Republican unknown Michael Patrick Flanagan, who became the first GOP congressman from Chicago in 35 years. It was part of a Republican sweep that returned the GOP to power in both houses of Congress for the first time since the 1950s. (Flanagan served just one term before being ousted by then-Democratic state Rep. Rod Blagojevich, who later became governor - and was ousted from office in his own scandal in January 2009.)

Biographer Richard Cohen wrote that Rostenkowski was "among the half dozen most influential members of Congress during the second half of the 20th century."...

Rostenkowski was a pillar of the Chicago Democratic Machine - a ward committeeman whose precinct captains were experts at getting out the vote. He once said that in Chicago politics is "a blood sport."

"We looked at politics as compromise," Rostenkowski said. "We were going to work together. We were going to get something done. We were Democrats and Republicans but we were also legislators. Politics is war today. Everybody wants to fight. Nobody wants to give in."

As chairman, Rostenkowski opposed protectionist trade legislation and played a key role in pushing through the North American Free Trade Agreement...


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