Obama Driving Citizenship Renunciations
Why are increasing numbers of super-rich Americans renouncing their citizenship? It's a growing trend.
Last year, a record 1,780 U.S. citizens and green-card holders said goodbye to the U.S. to avoid paying taxes, according to government figures. But are these wealthy Americans and green-card holders motivated solely by a desire to avoid the tax man?
The latest super-rich American to give up her citizenship is filthy rich Democrat Denise Rich -- a socialite, songwriter, and prominent fundraiser for Bill Clinton, who as president in 2001 obligingly gave Rich's billionaire husband a controversial pardon on his last day on office. Marc Rich, a billionaire commodities trader whom Rich subsequently divorced, had fled the United States years earlier while under indictment for tax evasion, fraud, racketeering and illegal oil trading with Iran.
Rich's decision to give up her U.S. passport, as Reuters noted, comes on the heels of Facebook's billionaire co-founder Eduardo Saverin -- a naturalized U.S. citizen from Brazil -- giving up his U.S. passport to become a citizen of Singapore, a tax haven. Conveniently, this occurred last May before Facebook's initial public offering.
What's with super-rich expats like Rich and Saverin? In one sense, they are very much like Obama, adopting a persona that is international -- not American.
What values does this new class of global elites embrace? Harvard political scientist Samuel P. Huntington observed that they "have little need for national loyalty, view national boundaries as obstacles that thankfully are vanishing, and see national governments as residues from the past whose only useful function is to facilitate the elite's global operations." Less than 4 percent of American are members of this class, he observed in his superb 2005 book "Who are We? The Challenges to American's National Identify." Huntington noted that their ranks include "academics, international civil servants and executives in global companies, as well as successful high-technology entrepreneurs."
The exodus of America's wealthy and super rich who are seeking to escape the tax man may well have something to do with Obama's rhetoric and policies: his vilification of the rich and successful, together with his demands for soak-the-rich taxes and increasing vigilance by the IRS.
Yet taxes rates were much higher in the 1950s than today; and while statistics are hard to come by, there was apparently no trend back then for rich Americans to calmly renounce their citizenship to avoid paying taxes.
What's different now, of course, is that there is no shame in renouncing one's American citizenship in certain trendy circles -- and especially, it seems, in some Democratic circles. Indeed, at glitzy stomping grounds in America and Europe, it's cooler to have an international persona than an American one - a fashion that Obama is a part of and that is helping to impoverish America -- both financially and spiritually -- though don't expect Obama and friends to admit it.