Schumer fires back at Nazi comparison

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) fired back on Thursday at critics who have compared him to Nazis and communists for introducing a bill aimed at punishing people who renounce their citizenship to avoid taxes.

The bill, the Ex-Patriot Act, is a direct response to Eduardo Saverin, the co-founder of Facebook, who renounced his U.S. citizenship before the company went public.

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"I know a thing or two about what Nazis did. Some of my relatives were killed by them," Schumer, who is Jewish, said in a speech on the Senate floor. "And saying that a person who made their fortune specifically because of the positive elements in American society in turn has a responsibility to do right by America is not even on the same planet as comparing what the Nazis did to the Jews."

Anti-tax activist Grover Norquist told The Hill last week that Schumer's bill reminds him of regimes that drove people out of the country, only to confiscate their wealth at the door.


“I think Schumer can probably find the legislation to do this. It existed in Germany in the 1930s and Rhodesia in the ’70s and in South Africa as well,” Norquist said. “He probably just plagiarized it and translated it from the original German.” 

Other conservatives, writing in The Wall Street Journal, National Review and Forbes, have also criticized Schumer for trying to punish people who leave the country.

"When I introduced our legislation I was sure it would garner wide and deep support," Schumer said, adding that he was "appalled" and "amazed" by the reaction from conservatives.

Schumer noted that conservatives have called his bill "un-American."

"Silly me, I thought renouncing one's citizenship was un-American," he said.

Under the Ex-Patriot Act, which was also introduced by Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), if the IRS determines a person renounced their citizenship for primarily tax reasons, all of the person's U.S. assets will be taxed at 30 percent — double the usual rate of 15 percent.

The person will also be barred from ever entering the United States again.

Saverin, who was born in Brazil and met Mark Zuckerberg at Harvard University, denies that he is giving up his citizenship to avoid taxes.

He currently lives in Singapore, which has no capital gains taxes.

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