A passionate (and eerily accurate) speech given by Sen. Bernie Sanders against the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement back in 2011 has been brought to the forefront after the Panama Papers were leaked.
The Panama Papers have done an excellent and compelling job at exposing just how the rich and wealthy of the world have used Panama as a way to escape paying an unbelievable amount of taxes in their native countries.
The Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca has been exposed for their involvement in creating secret shell companies and offshore accounts to help the rich stay rich (or even get richer); the documents allegedly reference 12 current or former world leaders, as well as 128 other politicians and public officials, including some of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s associates, as well as business ties between a member of FIFA’s ethics committee and a handful of men that the United States has previously indicted for corruption; the leak has also lead to the resignation of the Prime Minister of Iceland.
Offshore accounts and tax evasion among the rich is not exactly news—but Sanders’ analysis and arguments against the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement back in 2011 proves that he is no fool—he knew exactly what was going on in Panama:
“Panama’s entire annual economic output is only $26.7 billion a year, or about two-tenths of one percent of the U.S. economy. No-one can legitimately make the claim that approving this free trade agreement will significantly increase American jobs … Why would we be considering a stand-alone free trade agreement with this country?”
“Well, it turns out that Panama is a world leader when it comes to allowing wealthy Americans and large corporations to evade U.S. taxes by stashing their cash in off-shore tax havens. And, the Panama Free Trade Agreement would make this bad situation much worse. Each and every year, the wealthy and large corporations evade $100 billion in U.S. taxes through abusive and illegal offshore tax havens in Panama and other countries.”
Despite his fierce arguments against the trade agreement, the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement went into effect in 2012, making it even easier for the wealthy to launder their money and evade paying millions in taxes.
Banner Image Credit: Flickr user Gage Skidmore