New Flophouse Address:

You will find all the posts, comments, and reading lists (old and some new ones I just published) here:

Friday, July 17, 2015

A Message from the Americans Abroad Caucus

Yesterday, representatives Carolyn B. Maloney (Democrat-New York) and Mike Honda (Democrat-California) issued a press release about their bill calling for the creation of a Commission on Americans Living Abroad.

H.R. 597 which was introduced in 2011/2012 would  "establish a commission to study how Federal laws and policies affect United States citizens living in foreign countries." In the 2015 press release they say: "to study the variety of ways federal policy fails those living outside the 50 states." (Italics are mine.)

Note the timing of the press release - just a few days after Republicans Overseas announced that the FATCA/FBAR Complaint and Motion for preliminary injunction has been filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio at Dayton on behalf of 8.7 million overseas Americans.  Democrats Abroad shot back with their own statement condemning the lawsuit.

You can read all about it at the Isaac Brock Society:   The Bopp Suit Has Arrived.  You can also read my take on the lawsuit and my notes from Senator Mike Lee and superlawyer James Bopp, Jr.'s Paris visit back in October: A Chance to Turn the Tide.

According to Maloney and Honda's press release, this Commission on Americans Living Abroad, a 10-member bipartisan committee, would study and make recommendations on:
  • Federal financial reporting requirements for a US citizen living in a foreign country
  • Federal policies and requirements that affect an overseas citizen’s access to foreign and domestic financial institutions
  • Federal requirements for a spouse, child or another family member of a US citizen living abroad to become a US citizen
  • The ability of a US citizen living overseas to vote in Federal, State and local elections in the US, and the process by which they do so
  • The process by which a US citizen living abroad interacts with Federal programs like Social Security and Medicare
  • Methods to improve collaborations between US citizens abroad and Federal Agencies that oversee programs that serve them
I wrote about this proposed Commission in 2012 :   "Representative Carolyn B. Maloney of New York has put forward a very modest proposal for a commission that would start a dialogue between us. It would cost around 3 million dollars a year, a mere drop in the bucket compared to the overall federal budget - though I suppose if we asked a U.S. military contractor to cater it, it might cost quite a bit more than that. ACA and AARO are ready with some well researched material about how citizenship-based taxation and other homeland legislation effects us, and does no good whatsoever for the homeland."  

Good to see that it's back. 


Janet said...

The intentions are good but this is too little and too late. The problems facing Americans living abroad have already been well documented. What is now needed is legislation to correct these problems.

Inaka Nezumi said...

Very modest proposal indeed. Nothing about taxation?

You know, I've been thinking about the recent Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage, and what it took to reach that. From what I followed over the years from afar, not one of the politicians now patting themselves on the back and claiming to be proud of this decision raised one finger to help the cause when they were in a position to do so. Obama, Kerry, Gore, the Clintons... all triangulated when facing elections, or outright acted against the cause they now so fervently cheer, now that it has been won through the courts.

I see some similarities to the cause of RBT for Americans abroad. Differences, too, of course. But I think one lesson is that the politicians will never make the difference. The courts might in the end. And to get there will take a long, grassroots public education campaign.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I'm cynical (!), but "commission" sounds to me like politician-ese for "let's have a bunch of meetings that will result in no actual changes, so that during the next election cycle, we can say we did something... and oh yeah, let's stick it to Rand."

Anonymous said...

"How's that hooey, changey stuff working out for ya?" (Sarah Palin)

Blaze said...

Oops. Typo. That should have been hopey--IPad did a correction that was incorrect. However, hooey seems to capture it all very well.

Victoria FERAUGE said...

I agree that this is NOT the cure for what ails us now.

But I believe it does address a fundamental problem which: Who do we talk to when we have an issue? Our US politicians rarely listen to us, the homeland population barely knows we exist and so we go from one 3-letter agency to the next to no avail. If nothing else this might be (depends on WHO is on this commission) an answer to the question: Who ya gonna call?

And there is no problem whatsoever in my mind with supporting this Commission AND the lawsuits. :-)

Ellen Lebelle said...

Okay, Victoria, your latest comment pretty much expresses what I was going to say. If a commission can help Congress avoid the kinds of bills that punish us as a group of citizens just because we don't live there, I'm for it. It won't help solve past problems, but it might stop the next one before it gets to the floor. I think that is what the purpose of the Caucus was, but the Caucus has not been effective. (I'm holding back, biting my tongue.)
Also, the Commission is a good idea, but last time, the bill got bogged down in endless House committees. Let's hope it actually gets to the floor, this time. The key is getting a maximum number of co-sponsors. All of the Caucus should be co-sponsors, regardless of their party, but they are not, so there's a starting point for pressure. The new bill number is H.R.3078. It has been assigned to only 6 committees. You can track it:

EmBee said...

Orwell at Brock says supporting this bill (H.R.3078) on PopVox would help push it towards a vote. Seems worth a try to me.
Read his comment here: