Archive for Senator Bob Casey

Senator Chuck Schumer Is Appalled

Posted in Economics, Government, In the News, Patriotism, Philosophy, Politics, Taxes with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 26, 2012 by Xajow

Via reason.com, I came across an article in the politics section of the Huffington Post about Senator Chuck Schumer being “appalled” that his proposed plan to punish people for renouncing their citizenship would ever be compared to, frankly, similar legislation that was passed in Germany in 1931. According to the video at the top of the Huffington Post article, Senator Schumer believes that and similar comparisons are “absurd” and “odious”. Why? Senator Schumer explains in the video:

The law Mr. Norquist refers, references in Nazi Germany was purely discriminatory. It targeted a particular race of people, the Jewish people, and punished them for nothing other than being Jewish and exercised freedom of movement. It was meant to constrain that freedom by forcing Jews to reside inside Germany. Our proposal targets no single race, creed or class. It doesn’t punish you for factors beyond your control, like who your parents were. It applies based on actions you take, namely disowning the United Stated to avoid taxes. Our law is not triggered by a wish to travel beyond America’s borders, or even reside permanently in a foreign country. It’s the act of renouncing one’s U.S. citizenship for the purpose of avoiding taxes that triggers our bill.

Don’t be so sure. According to the Wikipedia page about the German law:

The Reichsfluchtsteuer (“Reich Flight Tax”) was a capital control law implemented in order to stem capital flight from the Weimar Republic. The law was created through decree on 8 December 1931 as part of the “Fourth Decree of the Reich President on the Protection of the Economy and Finance and on the Defense of Civil Peace” (“Vierten [Not-]Verordnung des Reichspräsidenten zur Sicherung von Wirtschaft und Finanzen und zum Schutze des inneren Friedens”), as published in the Reichsgesetzblatt 1931 I, pp. 699-745. The Reichsfluchtsteuer was assessed upon departure from the individual’s German domicile, provided that the individual had assets exceeding 200,000 RM or had a yearly income over 20,000 RM. The tax rate was set at 25 percent.

During the Third Reich, the use of the Reichsfluchtsteuer shifted away from dissuading wealthy citizens from moving overseas. Rather, the departure of Jewish citizens was desired and permitted by the Nazi government — even after the Invasion of Poland — until a decree from Heinrich Himmler forbade Jewish emigration on 23 October 1941. The Reichsfluchtsteuer was used as a “partial expropriation” of the assets of Jewish refugees who were persecuted and driven to flee their homeland.

In other words, the German law was initially passed before the Nazis came to power and, at least initially, targeted people of wealth rather than race.

Senator Schumer also goes on to say

I know a thing or two about what the Nazis did. Some of my relatives were killed by them. And saying that a person who made their fortune specifically because of the positive elements in American society, in turn, has a responsibility to do right by America is not even on the same planet as comparing to what Nazis did to Jews.

Basically Senator Schumer is trying to claim his proposed legislation is nothing like the Reichsfluchtsteuer because he is not doing what the Nazis did to he Jews. Yes, no one is claiming Senator Schumer or Senator Bob Casey (the cosponsor of the bill) are out to kill people who are renouncing their U.S. citizenship. That does not mean, however, that the proposed legislation bears no resemblance to the Reichsfluchtsteuer. And the fact that Senators Schumer and Casey are being more egalitarian in who they seek to punish does not mean this law is patriotic or a good idea.

But the good senator was not finished. In the video he also says:

Mr. Saverin is, in essence, an economic tax dodger. And once upon a time, the right-wing castigated draft dodgers for failing to heed their nation’s call. Those who fled the country were vilified as cowards, as self-absorbed traitors. Yet in this case, the same exact kind of unpatriotic, un-American behavior is actually being defended by the right-wing. It’s off the deep end.

Wow. Several objections immediately come to mind. The left once lauded draft dodgers. They also have tended to disprove of criticism of draft dodgers. And no, a person renouncing U.S. citizenship to avoid taxes (if that was Mr. Saverin’s intent) is not exactly like avoiding conscription by leaving the country. Obviously just leaving the country is not the same as renouncing U.S. citizenship. What is telling in this is that the senator wants to equate conscription, something we stopped doing in the U.S., with his notion that people who are economically successful in the U.S. automatically owe the U.S. government anything the U.S. government says they do. Which is does not put a favorable light on the proposed legislation.

But wait, there’s more.

According to the article:

Schumer added that he found it troubling that conservatives would lionize someone like Saverin, who was called an American hero on Forbes’ website.

“Can you believe it? An American hero? Renouncing your citizenship now qualifies as heroic for the hard right wing?” Schumer said.

[…]

“This has gone so far, this idolatry they have taken to such an extreme end, [that] they make Eduardo Saverin into their patron saint,” Schumer said. “In the name of low taxes for the wealthy, they have lionized an inherently unpatriotic person.”

“It is scary. It is a scary, absurd place where even a tax dodger who renounces America for his own 30 pieces of silver is celebrated as a patriot and an American hero. It is perverse,” said the senator. “I am appalled by making heroic a man who renounces citizenship to escape a tax rate of capital gains of 15 percent.”

Whoa there, senator. You are the one clearly going off the deep end. Thirty pieces of silver? What is scary is a U.S. senator trying to equate Mr. Saverin’s renunciation of U.S. citizenship with the betrayal of Jesus. People should be appalled by the senator’s serious lack of perspective. His comments are absurd and border on the asinine.

Mr. Saverin dropping his U.S. citizenship (for which he turned in the paper work in January of 2011 let us not forget) is not a betrayal. The man will still be paying taxes to the U.S. government. That Senators Schumer and Casey are having a hissy fit over the fact that Mr. Saverin managed to escape merely the capital gains tax is ridiculous. And if Mr. Saverin renounced his U.S. citizenship to avoid taxes, I wish he would take this opportunity to throw this back in the faces of the senators and claim his expatriation as a protest against unfair taxation. Which would be a protest with a great American tradition. (Boston Tea Party ring any bells?)

Politicians in Paternalistic Fit over Eduardo Saverin

Posted in Fairness, Government, In the News, Politics, Taxes with tags , , , , , , , on May 17, 2012 by Xajow

As best I can tell, the story goes something like this: Eduardo Saverin, co-founder of that Facebook thingie everyone is always talking about, moved to the Republic of Singapore sometime in A.D. 2009. And then in January 2011, Eduardo Saverin filled out and sent in the paperwork for renouncing his U.S. citizenship. And then sometime in September of 2011, Eduardo Saverin’s official request was granted. And now that, in the May of A.D. 2012, the Facebook thing is about to get its initial public offering (IPO) of stock, which could make for Mr. Saverin several truckloads of dollars, some people have decided to throw a hissy fit.

ABC News Blog The Note:

“This guy just thinks he can rip us off by engaging in this scheme,” [Senator Bob] Casey, D-Pa., said at a Capitol Hill news conference this morning. “We’ve got troops overseas that are sacrificing on our behalf every day, all the values that we hold dear. And Mr. Saverin spits in their eye, he spits in the eye of the American people. It’s an insult. He should be held accountable.”

Saverin, 30, relinquished his U.S. citizenship in September 2011 before the company announced its planned initial public offering of stock, which will debut this week. The move was likely a financial one because he owns an estimated 4 percent of Facebook and stands to make $4 billion when the company goes public.

“Saverin has turned his back on the country that welcomed him and kept him safe, educated him and helped him become a billionaire,” [Senator Chuck] Schumer, D-N.Y., said. “This is a great American success story gone horribly wrong.”

[…]

But Schumer was unrelenting this morning.  “It just so happens the country where he has chosen to reside, Singapore, has no capital gains tax,” Schumer added. “This tax-avoidance scheme is outrageous. Eduardo Saverin wants to ‘defriend’ the United States of America just to avoid taxes we aren’t going to let him get away with it.”

So to stop Saverin, and others who have relinquished their citizenship for tax avoidance, Sens. Schumer and Bob Casey, D-Pa., unveiled the “Ex-PATRIOT” – “Expatriation Prevention by Abolishing Tax-Related Incentives for Offshore Tenancy” – Act today.

The act is intended to respond directly to Saverin’s move, which they call a “scheme” that would “help him duck up to $67 million in taxes.”

The plan would re-impose taxes on expatriates like Saverin even after they flee the United States and take up residence in a foreign country.

If the Internal Revenue Service determines that people renounce their citizenship to avoid taxes, according to the proposal, they would then be subject to a 30 percent capital gains tax on future investment gains in the United States, regardless of where they live.

But most notably, the plan would bar individuals like Saverin from ever re-entering the United States again.

I was unaware that Senators Schumer and Casey were six years old. Which is my sarcastic way of saying they are being childish.

Which is odd, because while they are whining like little children they are also being paternalistic. They are almost acting like abusive parents. They complain that Mr. Saverin spits in the eye of the U.S. troops, and “he spits in the eye of the American people” and he “has turned his back on the country that welcomed him and kept him safe, educated him and helped him become a billionaire.” Whine, whine, whine. And indignantly they proclaim they “aren’t going to let him get away with it.” How? By punishing him with more taxes than he will already be paying (yes, expatriates still get taxed by the U.S. government) and by barring him from ever returning to the United States.

“You wanna leave?” I can almost hear them shouting. “You wanna leave? We’ll show you what we do to ungrateful brats!”

Senators Schumer and Casey are trying to control people. They are reacting like angry, abusive parents in public because they think they can get away with it. And they probably will, sadly. I am sure the “punish Eduardo Saverin” bandwagon is already loading up.

Mr. Saverin has not done anything wrong. He should not be punished so that a couple of Senators can score political points. If anyone should be punished in this, it is the senators. They are acting like a couple of immature and abusive parents and should be reprimanded for their bad public behavior.

(And yes, I used “A.D.” And yes, the “A.D.” goes before the year number. Not after.)