One-third of Americans Abroad Caucus supports passport-confiscation “highway” bill

Last week, a number of Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives, including more than a third of the putative members of the Americans Abroad Caucus, co-sponsored the introduction of HR 14, the House version of the Senate “highway” bill S 1813 we discussed earlier. That bill included provisions to let the IRS revoke or deny issuance of a passport, and also to give the U.S. Treasury the authority to illegalise credit cards from banks which they feel are “uncooperative” with the U.S.’ attempts to tax the whole world.

In a comment, Just Me points to some temporary good news: instead of voting on HR 14, House Republicans instead pushed through John Mica (R-FL)’s three-month highway-funding extension bill HR 4281, the ninth extension of the Bush II-era SAFETEA-LU act.

The full list of Americans Abroad Caucus members who co-sponsored HR 14:

  • Steve Cohen (D-TN)
  • Gerald Connolly (D-VA)
  • Mike Doyle (D-PA)
  • Rush Holt (D-NJ)
  • Mike Honda (D-CA) — a disappointing but entirely unsurprising betrayal, since he’s also the one who spawned the Congressional Progressive Caucus’ “Budget For All” which would eliminate the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion
  • James McGovern (D-MA)
  • Jim Moran (D-VA)
  • Janice Schakowsky (D-IL) — yet another unsurprising betrayal, given that she’s already come out in support of Honda’s budget
  • Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)
  • Henry Waxman (D-CA)

The following Democrats should be congratulated for standing up to their party and not co-sponsoring HR 14. However, out of these twelve, only ten are entitled to vote (two are delegates from U.S. territories); in otherwords, fully half of the voting Democratic representatives in “our” caucus support the Senate’s “highway” bill.

  • Carolyn Maloney (D-NY; Americans Abroad Caucus co-chair)
  • Michael Capuano (D-MA)
  • André Carson (D-IN)
  • Donna M. Christensen (D-VI Delegate)
  • James Clyburn (D-SC)
  • Susan Davis (D-CA)
  • Charles Gonzales (D-TX)
  • Alcee Hastings (D-FL)
  • Gregory Meeks (D-NY) — Meeks is pretty much the only reliable supporter of U.S. persons abroad in Congress; he has repeatedly sponsored (often without any co-sponsors) the “Working American Competitiveness Act” which would make the Foreign Earned Income exclusion unlimited
  • Christopher Murphy (D-CT)
  • Donald Payne (D-NJ)
  • Christopher Sablan (D-MP Delegate)

Naturally, none of the Republican members of the Americans Abroad Caucus co-sponsored the introduction of the Senate highway bill either (whether simply for the purpose of sticking to the party line, or due to genuine objections over its content):

  • Joe Wilson (R-SC; Americans Abroad Caucus co-chair)
  • Mike Conaway (R-TX)
  • Kay Granger (R-TX)
  • Lee Terry (R-NE)
  • Frank Wolf (R-VA)

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15 thoughts on “One-third of Americans Abroad Caucus supports passport-confiscation “highway” bill

  1. Forget the US Congress….let the ACA continue spending money wining and dining the members with nothing to show for it. The battle must be waged overseas and I think by compiling a list of well-known influencial people in the world who are dual US / ?? citizens and see if any traction can be gained.

    What’s apparent is the Congress, Levin, and Geithner are taking the whole issue as some sideshow that doesn’t really matter. Geithner can pay lip service in front of Rep Mahoney, but what is a meeting between her and him really going to accomplish? All he’ll say “not me” go back to the Congress they make the laws – what’s the point. Geithner may be able to bend a few rules here and there but he can’t change the law.

    So…Rep Mahoney will write a letter back saying “there was a constructive meeting between myself and Sec Geithner. He voice his concerns about FATCA and its impact on US citizens abroad to Congress” – what bull**it.

    The year 2012 is a “get real moment.” If the banks with all their $$millions of lobbyist money can make a difference, will the ACA and other groups with no money going change things? The answer is NO.

    I believe the best way forward is compile a list of well-known dual citizens such as Boris Johnson, and how about Ann Sinclair – French TV personality (DSK’s wife – the former IMF banker) and others to raise awareness – if not remind them of their US tax obligations.

    These people will only have a few choices:

    – Ignore us fellow US citizens and hope it goes away
    – Engage the issue and voice their outrage about the US government’s nerve
    – Prove they have renounced their citizenship and perhaps publish their CLN to prove they’ve done it. Otherwise check the Federal Register to see if their name appears on the renunciation lists.
    – Publish there 1040 to prove that they have filed with the IRS and fullfilled their annual filing obligation to the US government (probably the least plausible).

    Why should ordinary US citizens abroad have to fight this battle on our own?

    At the very least it would make an interesting news story about the Mayor of London who is a US citizen and is liable to US taxes but won’t file his 1040 every year because he feels the same way as the rest of us. Also it puts the US governement in a difficult positon, are they going to enforce the rules on poor old Boris or ignore him. Of course the IRS could say “the tax matters of a specific individual are not open to public discussion.”

    Please create another list in addition to the Consolute Reports to kick this off. A lot of this research can be done on the internet. Then politicians and the individual themselves should be contacted to push FATCA up political agendas across different countries.

    Once the IRS has “FATCAised” a country, it’s going to require more effort, if not legal, to remove it.

    If I was Doug Shulman I would have a map of the world in my office and country-by-country change the colour when I’ve FATCAised a country!!! The joke is on the other 200+ countries of the world ceding their financial sovereignty to the US and getting nothing back in return – don’t let this happen.

  2. It is incredible how Americans Abroad so far have been unable to organize and have a voice. Yet we vote. In a presidential election our absentee votes could make a great difference. How to use this power? I am a member of Facebook Marylanders Abroad and Democrats Abroad. I have been raising the issues there but to my dismay people either do not know what is going on or don´t seem to be interested. I can´t understand this.

  3. I’m not American-born so this doesn’t sting quite like it does with my American-born wife. But it is increasingly obvious now that Americans abroad have only two real choices: return home to avoid financial ruin and never again venture forth to reside in a foreign country, or immediately disassociate yourself from your American roots either through renouncement or relinquishment. There really is no palatable middle ground any more.

    It’s hard to know whether or not this is the intended consequence of people like Carl Levin. Do they know what they are doing? Can they be so deaf that they don’t hear about the affects their actions are having on a very large group of otherwise-loyal Americans? Have they considered how much damage can be done, internationally, by 7 milion PO’d expatriates?

    I don’t believe any effort to educate homeland Americans or their elected representatives will show success. The land is now being governed by skillful demagogues whose only interest is in maintaining or gaining power. Didn’t Plato warn us about that? or was it Aristotle.

    The only hope, in my view, is that the IRS and Treasury Department will be so intransigent about FATCA that they’ll force too many countries to take a stand to protect their sovereignty. And I’m not real confident that will happen either.

    After a few moments of sorrow, lamenting for a land that used to operate on principles of fairness and decency, my wife has moved on and is now awaiting the call for a second interview for her relinquishment. We’re going to be in Australia for a month as of next week, so I’m hopeful that the call won’t come until we return. I still have no illusions whatsoever that we’ll ever be able to visit the US again, and most certainly not after the CLN has been issued (and forwarded to the IRS).

  4. @Arrow

    I agree with your comments above. I have not as yet applied for my CLN but will probably be forced to do so. Like your wife, I too, may have to finally accept that I will not be able to travel to the US to visit my family or spend some time in the ‘sunshine’, during a rainy Vancouver winter.

    Enjoy your time in Australia. We will miss your posts at IBS and will eagerly await your post after your wife’s second appointment at Vancouver consulate.

  5. @Eric… Thanks for the effort to delineate the support or lack thereof in the Caucus. This is very helpful that you have done this analytical work. I appreciate it.

    @John… As garbo999 says….Yes Boris is done with his US obligations, but I kinda like the idea of getting a list of key high visibility celebs or politicians that are dual citizens to target for publicity purposes. I am very pessimistic that efforts in DC are going to make a whit of difference given the mindset of those mental midgets in Congress…

    There I go, engaging in name calling, which I don’t like to do, but it does get frustrating. I am taking it back, but leaving the record of how I am beginning to feel about how I see these folks.

    But let’s face it, whatever name they want to put on a Caucus, it really matters not, as the one constituency they respond to first is “Lobby Money” and secondly to their voters who reside in the Homeland districts.

    Sadly, America does not want (if it could engage in collective thought) to have citizens abroad unless they pay up for the privilege of the passport. That is the reality. It is not so much the idea of citizenship, as it is the passport/Greencard. That is the commodity they are valuing and selling with their tax regime. It is not until the value of it falls, and becomes like a dollarette, will they start paying attention. You will know we are making progress when no one applies for the Greencard lottery!

    @Arrow. I will be in Sydney the 1st of May. Will you still be in the area? If so would you care to catch up for a cuppa?

  6. @Just Me
    ‘It is not so much the idea of citizenship, as it is the passport/Greencard. This is the commodity they are valuing and selling with their tax regime.’ Many of us have never had, nor ever wanted their damn passport. I have managed to get by for almost 69 years without ever having had a US passport. But they are of the impression that everyone wants one. Well, PLEASE LEAVE US ALONE and TAKE YOUR DAMN PASSPORT AND SHOVE IT!

  7. Just Me: We will be in your neck of the woods shortly after that. We’re doing this via Melbourne, but we’ve arranged to drop the rental car at Sydney Airport May 3 for a one-way flight back to Mel. We don’t have definite plans, but will likely be somewhere close to Sydney on May 1st (Kiama maybe? My wife is the trip coordinator here) and most definitely on May 2nd.. Maybe we can trade links through Petros? We’ll have cell phones with us — and we’ll be checking email pretty regularly. Love to get together if it’s possible.

  8. Just me: Oops — just remembered you’re from Kiwiland, not Oz. An alternative — we’re in the Auckland Airport between flights both going and coming — that would be April 8/May4 — but that means in and out of security which might not be an option for us.

  9. @Tiger. Take your passport and shove it! 🙂 LOL. I can certainly appreciate that sentiment! Unfortunately there are too many in the world that seem to still want it or the GC, and until that tide changes and demand ebbs, I don’t hold much hope for a change in Congress attitudes. Don’t like it, but it is what it is!

  10. @Arrow…
    Auckland doesn’t work, as you are in transit.

    I am arriving in Sydney on May 1st, and stay in Sutherland during my time there. I could have Petros give you my Skype name and contact details, and if we could have a chat. It is always fun to put a face together with a blog alias! I will send him a message.

    If you are arriving between the 1st and 3rd, driving up from Melbourne you will be coming very close by. Cronulla beaches are a nice meeting spot, or if you are touring the CBD I would be happy to catch a train into the Circular Quay and meet you there.

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