Grassley on Lew’s Cayman Islands holdings: “The irony is thick.”
posted at 5:31 pm on February 9, 2013 by Erika Johnsen
Well, this is rich.
We have a tax code that perpetually makes it a worthwhile endeavor for wealthy people to use up the time and resources it takes to store various aspects of their income in offshore accounts — and just like everyone else on Planet Earth, even wealthy people are partial to saving more of their own money if they can. If politicians take umbrage with that, perhaps they should address our highly uncompetitive, convoluted, and heavy-handed tax code, instead of class-warmongering against the millionaires and billionaires trying to protect their finances. Don’t hate the player, hate the stupid game.
President Obama, of course, made much ado — much ado — of absolutely hammering Mitt Romney for being such an unpatriotic, ungallant, greedy vulture capitalist who has dared to have offshore accounts as part of his portfolio. Obama waged nothing short of a moral vendetta against the guy, constantly extolling how it is rich people’s duty to “pay a little more” in the name of simple decency and fairness. It was one of Team Obama’s favorite themes, and they hit it early and often.
But President Obama’s noble, everyman scruples evidently only apply to Republican opponents, and not to his friends. Because, consistency. Via NBC:
Jack Lew, President Barack Obama’s Treasury Secretary nominee, previously held up to $100,000 in investments in an offshore hedge fund located in the Cayman Islands, according to financial disclosure forms.
Lew’s financial disclosure forms, filed in 2009 and 2011, showed that Lew had invested between $50,000 and $100,000 in a fund called Citigroup Venture Capital International Growth Partnership (Employee) II, L.P. — the very type of fund President Obama has repeatedly criticized.
… According to his official White House biography, Lew served as managing director and chief operating officer of Citi Global Wealth Management and then Citi Alternative Investments (CAI) from 2006 to 2008. …
The source also told NBC News that Lew had no role in creating, managing or operating the fund, and that Citigroup had organized the fund in the Cayman Islands and made it available to other employees. The source said that many other Citigroup employees had investments in the fund.
Congressional Republicans are raising new questions about the Treasury nominee’s offshore financial holdings. …
At issue is an employee investment fund based in the Cayman Islands that Lew bought into during his time working at Citigroup before entering the Obama administration. …
“President Obama has been almost obsessively critical of offshore investments,” Grassley said. “He called Ugland House ‘either the biggest building or the biggest tax scam on record.’ ”
The Ugland House is a building in the Cayman Islands that serves as the legal address for thousands of corporations seeking favorable tax breaks. In a 2009 speech, Obama called the use of the adders “the kind of tax scam that we need to end.”
“For years, we’ve talked about shutting down overseas tax havens that let companies set up operations to avoid paying taxes in America,” Obama said.
Our president’s qualms run deep.