This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," November 3, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.
JOHN GIBSON, HOST: Charlie Rangel has found himself in a war of words with the vice president in the days before the election. After Dick Cheney said he would raise taxes and destroy the economy if Democrats take control of the House, Charlie Rangel called him a... Well, let's not go there.
The Democratic New York congressman and ranking member of the Ways and Means Committee is with us now. He's hoping to be the powerful tax-writing committee's new chairman, if things go his party's way on Tuesday.
I know you're a very affable guy, and Dick Cheney said, Charlie just wants to call — he sounded a little rough on you. And you said what you said. But his point: If Charlie Rangel becomes chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, what happens to the tax cuts?
REP. CHARLES RANGEL, D-N.Y.: You know, it's not nearly as powerful as people might think. This is especially so when you got a Republican president that thinks opposing everything that you did want to do.
And a lot of the Democrats that are going to get elected have been elected promising that they're not going to increase taxes. And so if the Senate becomes Democrat, it's going to be very thin.
But I think that you can forget about rolling back taxes. That's bad tax policy, and it's bad politics. So, I don't see where there's anything to worry about there.
We would want to see that most of the tax cuts in the future, however, go to the middle class and the lower income, especially what we call the alternative minimum tax. That's the elephant in the living room.
GIBSON: Yes, I know. It is, and you have promised to do something about it. I think everybody would be pleased with that.
But look at this fact. I will put it up on the screen. When the Bush tax cuts were implemented in 2001, they had a 10-year run. You voted against them. So, why wouldn't I expect that, when they come due, you would vote against them again? And, as the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, you would have great power.
RANGEL: You know, the power is your ability to bring people together to get a consensus. And, so, even though I voted against it, if we want to get anything done as Democrats, then, let's face it. If the voters give us a chance to have the majority, they're going to be watching us very carefully. And, if we don't show that we can get something done productively, we will go out, too.
So, it just seems to me that we have to work with the Republicans, we have to work with the conservatives, and we have to move forward. There's not going to be any Rangel tax bills or any conservative tax bills. It has to be something that is a bipartisan effort.
GIBSON: Are you saying the Democrats who would be taking over the House would show up as kumbaya moderates, holding hands with the conservatives, who have had their foot on their necks all these years?
RANGEL: I'm not saying that at all. What I am saying is this: With DeLay gone and Mr. Thomas, the chairman of the committee, gone, believe me, it's going to be a lot easier for us to work together.
The second thing I'm saying is that a lot of the Democrats that are being elected are being elected out of Republican districts. That means that they're far more to the center and the right than the so-called liberal Democrats.
And, lastly, we're going to have to work with Republicans because we have a Republican president.
GIBSON: I have got to get your take on the Kerry thing. He's suddenly out of sight.
RANGEL: Thank God.
GIBSON: Been silent.
RANGEL: That's right. I went in my pockets: How much money you need to get out of town?
RANGEL: Use my credit card.
GIBSON: Is he a pariah now in your party?
RANGEL: No. It's not the first time he's said things that he wasn't exactly proud of. But I really am more critical of the president using his dumb joke as a vehicle to work up and get the military angry. Now, we didn't have to polarize the military.
GIBSON: I don't think — you saw that thing that came from the Minnesota National Guard, that picture, that joke they made of him. The president didn't have to get those guys worked up.
RANGEL: I don't really think — listen, if I was in the military, I would have had the personality...
GIBSON: Which you were.
RANGEL: I would have done the same thing, too. You get someone that makes a dumb mistake, stick it to them.
But the president wasn't doing that. The president was polarizing and implying that Kerry was unpatriotic and deliberately attacked those people. And that wasn't so.
GIBSON: Charlie Rangel may be the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. Charlie, thanks very much.
RANGEL: Thank you. Good to be back.
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