Some offshore accounts are more equal than others
Mitt Romney was a robber baron capitalist pig for having one. But Obama sees no problem with his nominee for Treasury Secretary, Jack Lew, sheltering his money in the Cayman Islands.
Multiple reports say an investment listed on 2009 financial disclosure paperwork when Lew was nominated to serve as a deputy secretary in the State Department is a fund based in the Cayman Islands.
The fund is CVCI Growth Partnership, described on the form as an employee investment fund. Prior to his State Department stint, Lew was employed at Citigroup as the chief operating officer of a business unit.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa and member of the Senate Finance Committee, blasted Lew over the investment.
"President Obama has been almost obsessively critical of offshore investments. He called Ugland House 'either the biggest building or the biggest tax scam on record,'" Grassley wrote in a statement late Friday.
Ugland House is a building in the Cayman Islands which is the legal address for thousands of investment funds and businesses; the islands themselves are known as a tax haven for U.S. investors and companies. Obama mentioned Ugland House in the 2009 address Grassley cited, saying it "had over 12,000 business claim this building as their headquarters."
"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. He said his budget proposal would crack down on businesses which incorporate in places such as Ugland House.
Grassley said of the contrast between Obama's statements and Lew's past investment, "The irony is thick.
"On the White House claim that Mr. Lew previously disclosed his Ugland House investment, it was disclosed only if you knew where to look and then were able to put the pieces together. To say this information was fully disclosed to the public is misleading, at best," he charged.
The White House says that Lew paid all his taxes on all of his income. But that's not the issue. The issue is the idea that it is evil to have an offshore account - at least it was for Mitt Romney. It raises dark specters of hidden income and avoidance of taxes.
In the case of Jack Lew, President Obama apparently believes that some offshore accounts are more equal than others.