Dan Rostenkowski Dead at 82

Dan Rostenkowski has died:

Former Rep. Dan Rostenkowski, the Chicago Democrat who became the leading architect of congressional tax policy in the Reagan era but later went to federal prison for corruption, died Wednesday, a family friend said. He was 82. 1/4

Rostenkowski, who served 18 terms before losing in 1994, died surrounded by family at his home in Lake Benedict, Wis., friend Ellen Tully told The Associated Press. He had been treated for prostate cancer in the 1990s.

As House Ways and Means Committee chairman, Rostenkowski was known as a consensus builder and a master of legislative tactics. He is credited with leading a 1983 effort to rescue Social Security from insolvency and pushing through a sweeping 1986 overhaul of the nation’s tax system.

But Rostenkowski himself acknowledged that his legacy would always be tainted by his stint in federal prison.

“I know that my obituary will say, ‘Dan Rostenkowski, felon,’ and it is something that I have to live with,”‘ he said in a 1998 broadcast interview with Robert Novak and Mark Shields.

In 2000, however, then-President Bill Clinton pardoned Rostenkowski. Two prominent Republicans, former President Gerald R. Ford and former House Minority Leader Robert H. Michel were among those urging the pardon.

Coming on the heels of yesterday’s death of Ted Stephens in a plane crash, it’s been a bad week for former Congressmen forced out of office in scandal after decades accumulating power.

FILED UNDER: Obituaries, Quick Takes, US Politics
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