How to Defend Offshore Tax Havens From Obama
The conservative opposition to President Obama’s agenda faces a new challenge today when a Senate subcommittee chaired Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) holds a hearing on offshore tax havens. Levin introduced legislation Monday that seeks to recover billions in tax revenue from U.S. corporations and individuals using overseas accounts to avoid paying U.S. taxes. Levin’s bill is similar to a measure co-sponsored by then- Sen. Barack Obama2007.
Republicans wondering how to thwart Obama’s agenda on this point can take their cues from a small northern Virginia think tank with a truly Gingrichian name, the Center for Freedom and Prosperity, which stoutly defends Americans’ right to take their money and run to the Cayman Islands.
Today’s inquiry on the Hill — in which scheduled witnesses include officials from the Justice Department, the Internal Revenue Service, and United Bank of Switzerland — is a “kangaroo-court hearing,” said CFP President Andrew Quinlan in an interview echoing a press release.
The hearing pivots off a subcommittee inquiry into UBS, a bank headquartered in Switzerland, where it holds about $18 billion for 19,000 American clients.
What Levin and others denounce as “tax havens” are actually worthy outposts of “tax competition,” Quinlan said. The effort to collect U.S. taxes from U.S. taxpayers is merely a “
What about people who are using the offshore entities to avoid paying U.S. taxes — like it appears in UBS’ case?
“I have no opinion about that,” Quinlan said, referring to the specifics of the UBS case. Nonetheless, Quinlan is clear on how he feels about Levin’s inquiry: “The hearing is grandstanding.”
The point isn’t that CFP is influential. Quinlan’s defensiveness suggests he feels the political tide is running against him. Market fundamentalism is so deeply entrenched in Washington discourse that partisans don’t even recognize when they are parodying themselves.
*Update: The original version of this post has been updated to clarify one of Andrew Quinlan’s quotes. *