DA Marches for Science

17991669_1883054361965288_6321859743411416048_o.jpgDemocrats Abroad members and Americans from around the world laced up their shoes on Saturday, April 22nd, to take part in more than 500 satellite marches at sites across the globe. Marchers from from Belgium, to Chile, to France, Sweden, the United Kingdom and beyond joined in with scientists, science enthusiasts, and other supporters marching in Washington DC and across the US as a demonstration of public support for science and scientific research.

Planned to coincide with Earth Day, the March for Science was intended as a multinational, bi-partisan event to both celebrate and encourage the indispensable role that science plays in global governments, economies, and health.

Democrats Abroad Canada joined the action too, with 20 members from DA-Canada’s Toronto chapter taking part in the March in the city. Nathan K. Lujan, DA-Canada Toronto chapter Co-Vice Chair, and a scientist himself, took part in the March as he felt it was imperative to protect scientific analysis and exploration along with an opportunity to engage with fellow Americans abroad who may feel at odds with the Trump administration’s cuts to federal funding and research and science-based organizations.

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FATCA Update - April 2017

It’s been a big week for the Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) in Washington DC.

Rep Maloney introduces Same Country Exception Bill

On Tuesday April 25, 2017 Americans Abroad Caucus Chair Rep Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) introduced HR2136, the Overseas Americans Financial Access Act (OAFAA) in the House of Representatives.  The bill embodies our FATCA reform recommendation, the Same Country Safe Harbor Exemption from FATCA reporting for Americans abroad.  

Congresswoman Maloney’s House speech introducing the bill is here.  

This reform has the support of all our colleague organisations representing Americans abroad, as well as the National Taxpayer Advocate.  We plan on supporting the bill strongly in our Congressional Door Knock next month.  We will also publish an information pack for the Global Action Team to share with groups across Democrats Abroad interested in gathering members to write letters or postcards to Representatives seeking their sponsorship of the bill.

House Holds Hearings on FATCA Consequences

The OAFAA bill was introduced ahead of hearings held Wednesday April 26th by the Government Operations Subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee “Reviewing the Unintended Consequences of the Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act”.  Democrats Abroad, working through legislative aides on Rep Maloney’s staff, has been trying since the hearing was scheduled to get a witness on the list to testify.  As Republicans control the Committee (and all Congressional Committees) it was not surprising that we were not successful.  Nevertheless Democrats Abroad made a submission to the Subcommittee and we expect it will be published in due course.

Of course a written statement is not as powerful as speaking directly to the Committee in the hearing.  Had we testified, Democrats Abroad would have reiterated our support for a switch to Residency-based Taxation.  Failing that, we support the Safe Harbor exemption from FATCA reporting for Americans abroad.

Our scepticism about this hearing has always run high.  Government Operations Subcommittee Chair Mark Meadows (R-NC) introduced a FATCA Repeal bill in the House of Representatives last month.  The same bill was introduced in the Senate by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), who testified at the hearing as a witness.  Senator Paul, as you may know, was a plaintiff, now an appellant, in the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of FATCA.  The rest of the witnesses bar one were also strident FATCA opponents, including famed Citizens United lawyer Jim Bopp who represents Republicans Overseas. 

The one witness who spoke in support of FATCA is a retired legislative aide.  She worked for retired Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) and is deemed to be the architect of FATCA.  She spoke strongly of the law’s importance as a critical deterrent to tax evasion – and not in favour of the Safe Harbor.

Fortunately Democratic members of the Subcommittee members Rep Maloney and Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-District of Columbia) spoke strongly in support of the Safe Harbor as a mechanism for both relieving the FATCA burden and maintaining the law’s original intent to discourage and apprehend tax evaders.

By the end of the hearing Chairman Meadows indicated he is open to compromise in developing a FATCA remedy for Americans abroad.  That may stretch credulity given Meadows’ lead sponsorship on the House bill to repeal FATCA, but we will are taking his comments at face value.  He asked the witnesses to get back to the Subcommittee with three recommendations to modify FATCA.  Democrats Abroad will also make a submission providing recommendations.  And we will continue to monitor the Government Operations Subcommittee and Chairman Meadows, looking for opportunities to work with them and others in developing a remedy that both addresses the problems FATCA is causing for ordinary, hard-working Americans abroad and protects its ability to fight financial crimes that underwrite terrorism and facilitate trafficking in drugs, arms and humans, as well as fight tax evasion.

Thanks to Katie Solon and Joe Smallhoover

Many thanks to International Chair Katie Solon and DA France Chair Joe Smallhoover for attending the hearing on Democrats Abroad’s behalf.  They had valuable discussions on the edges and in the breaks of the hearing with FATCA reform allies and opponents, as our FATCA advocacy work clearly will go on.  Katie and Joe also met yesterday with officials at Treasury who have carriage of FATCA. 

Our engagement with regulators and legislators about FATCA is in its 6th year.  We are grateful to all those who have contributed to this important advocacy work over that time.

Please contact us at any time with questions or comments. 

Respectfully submitted,

FBAR/FATCA Task Force

Carmelan Polce, Chair (Singapore)

DeeDee Gierow (Sweden)

Michael Ramos (Australia)

Joe Smallhoover (France)

Orlando Vidal, Ex Officio (UAE)


Mayor Pete Buttigieg with DA in Berlin

Watch the video: Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana speaks to Democrats Abroad members in Berlin, 1 April 2017.

 


Take the Leap - Volunteer

You’ve decided you want to make a difference — to do your part for democracy, even while living abroad. But where to begin? We talked with Democrats Abroad team leaders Hilary Bown from Germany, and Heidi Burch from Canada to ask what you might find yourself doing if you decide to volunteer with Democrats Abroad.

Both leaders emphasized that it really depends on the potential volunteer. “There are so many ways for volunteers in our network to be active politically,” says Bown, who leads the Global Action team for DA and was just re-elected Vice Chair for Democrats Abroad Germany. “We’re trying to tease out all of those options and help people work on what’s easiest and most productive for them.”

Burch, a co-chair for the Get Out the Vote team who was also recently elected Vice Chair for her country committee, detailed some of the options. They ranged from talking with people at local events, to phone banking, to putting your marketing skills to work writing emails to members. She noted that phone banking requires the least amount of commitment; you can call voters from anywhere in the world with an internet connection, and choose the amount of time you spend doing it.

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FBAR/FATCA Task Force Report

In the notes below, our FBAR/FATCA Task Force reports in on what's happening on the Hill and in Treasury, and on changes in reporting requirements.  

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DA Germany Elects Its Youngest Ever Chapter Chair

Although he knew that he would not be eligible to vote in the 2016 presidential election, DA Germany’s John Grosser, then only 17, nevertheless wanted to make a difference. The son of a German father and American mother, John was, like many millennials, attracted to the politics of Senator Bernie Sanders, and so volunteered to do some phonebanking for the candidate from his home in Meschede, a small town in Germany’s rural Sauerland region. Using the digital calling tool provided by the campaign, John made thousands of calls via his computer to voters in Iowa and New Hampshire during the early primary season to help get out the vote for the Senator.

His activities were subsequently featured in an article in the German press about how expatriate Americans were engaging from afar in the politics back home, and this in turn brought him to the attention of DA Germany Chair Quaide Williams, who called John to discuss if he might be interested in helping with Democrats Abroad, and to invite him to the upcoming Global Convention in Berlin.

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John Grosser (far right), new chair for DA Germany's NRW chapter, stands with former NRW chapter chairs Ellen Rosenbaum, Bill Purcell and Beret Roots

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Town Hall – Keith Ellison speaks to Democrats Abroad

Keith Ellison spoke to Democrats Abroad in more than 75 countries during this global town hall. This event was made possible with small donations from donors like you. Please consider donating what you can so that we can continue to provide programs like this for Democrats living outside the U.S.


Governor O'Malley and Robby Mook Visit Berlin

The Berlin Chapter of DA Germany had an exceptional treat this week. Both Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and former Hillary Clinton Campaign Manager Robby Mook were in town for an international conference, and agreed to attend a cocktail Q-and-A with local members. The Governor even played the guitar.

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DA Women Answer the Challenge

As the world celebrates International Women’s Day by reaffirming the basic human rights of women everywhere, many look to this year’s observances to be especially poignant in an increasingly hostile political environment.

The Trump administration has put the concerns of American women in the line of fire, with women’s reproductive choices, access to healthcare, paid family leave, equal pay, and protection from sexual harassment all vulnerable and especially threatening for minorities and women of color.

In the broadest sense, the new administration poses a threat to basic human rights. On a more nuanced scale, President Trump’s public comments have condoned a more permissible culture of misogyny.

As a result, many American women are answering back not just with just increased awareness of these threats, but also an outpouring of activism. The Women’s March defied expectations for turnout not just in the United States, but in countries around the world, from London to Toronto, to Mexico City to Paris that held sister marches contributing to an overall attendance in the millions. The activity kicked off a resistance movement that is galvanizing women to take up more engaged acts of political involvement.

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Breaking: Donald Trump Resubmits Discriminatory Travel Ban

This new travel ban is just a rehash of the first. As Tom Perez recently wrote,

"This ban, like the last one, is unconstitutional -- just ask the multiple federal courts that ruled against it the first time.

You would think that Trump might have taken a few minutes after that to read the Constitution. (I'd suggest starting with Article III for a refresher on the role of the judicial branch, and then move on to what the First Amendment says about freedom of religion.)”

As Democrats Abroad, we must fight against the Trump administration’s un-American actions and stand together with immigrants and our neighbors around the world.

Maybe Trump could learn a thing or two from this immigrant:

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