(Before I get into this, I have to ask: was the kind of deep anal probing the press is doing of Mitt Romney’s finances ever performed on the Kennedy clan? Anyone ever delve into Merchandise Mart’s tax assessments or Joe Kennedy’s mineral rights investments? Somehow, I think not.)
The latest “scandal” to engulf Mitt Romney is that he has money in — gasp! — Swiss bank accounts. And let me just pause a moment to let that sink in. We’ve got a politician running for office whose biggest scandal is some overseas assets. I may not like Mitt Romney too much as a Presidential candidate, but you’ve got to admit the man is pretty clean when this is the worst you can dig up on him.
Anyway, the focus on this and the hysterical rhetoric about Mitt Romney divesting in America and engaging in suspicious activity bothered me. Matt Welch has a great article detailed just why I find this particular “scandal” is so vile. First, the background:
The gruesomely acronymned Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) essentially outsources overseas IRS collections (the U.S. being one of the only countries to tax based on passport, not just residency) to any foreign financial institution crazy enough to let Americans hold an account. As I wrote in April, and as you can see in testimonies all over the Internet, the stone-predictable outcome is that banks in Switzerland (and Europe, and anyplace where governments are “friendly” with Washington) are shuttering not just Americans’ accounts, but accounts of expatriate Europeans living and working in the United States.
All because the U.S. government does not respect limitations on its ability to squeeze money out of citizens, and because there will never be a shortage of Beavis and Butthead-quality political hacks like Robert Gibbs eager to go on the weekend chat shows to impersonate a populist (at least when it’s not his client being accused of bottomless wealth).
The focus on Swiss bank accounts is part of a growing belief in government that all your money belongs to them. If you are putting money overseas, there is something wrong with you, something sinister, something un-American. And your right to privacy, your right to contract, your right to do whatever the fuck you want with your damned money is meaningless.
We need to push back against this horse shit. This is deeper that some rich Republican politician. This is an attack on a basic economic freedom, one started by FATCA and now being continued by a media, political party and culture absolutely consumed with wealth envy.