Biden is taking on the kleptocrat lobby
If we don't hear them howl in pain, we'll know his new regulations didn't go far enough.
I’ve mentioned before that the world’s leading tax haven isn’t Switzerland or the Cayman Islands, but the United States. Last week Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said it, too: “There’s a good argument that, right now, the best place to hide and launder ill-gotten gains is actually the United States.”
This isn’t a problem that’s going to be solved overnight, in part because most of the abuses occur at the state level (including Biden’s home state of Delaware). But the Biden administration last week introduced two regulations that will help, one requiring more disclosure of who owns shell companies and one expanding disclosure concerning real estate transactions. Luxury real estate has been a haven for foreign kleptocrats in recent years.
The American Bar Association and the real estate lobby won’t like these new regs, and if we don’t hear howls of pain from them we’ll know Biden’s measures didn’t go far enough. But even if they do, there’s lots more to do. My latest for the New Republic explains all this. You can read it here.
Remember the Soviet Politburo? In the waning years of the Cold War, a frequent criticism of the USSR was that its ruling body was preposterously old and out of touch. Every May Day these geezers would show up on a Moscow reviewing stand, looking stuffed, and fix their rheumy gaze on a procession of jackbooted Red Army troops, missiles and tanks. For Americans, the sight was always good for a horselaugh. In 1982, when Leonid Brezhnev, the last of that generation to hold power for any significant length of time, went to his reward, the median age of a Politburo member was 71. No wonder the Evil Empire was crumbling!
You see where this is going. The U.S. doesn’t have a Politburo, but if you calculate the median age of the president, the speaker of the House, the majority leader of the Senate, and the three Democrats leading in the presidential polls for 2020, the median age is … uh … 77.
If you recalculate for today, the median age of president, speaker, and Senate Democratic and Republican leaders (there are no leading candidates yet for 2024) is … uh … 79.
The 2019 piece said the average age for a House member was 58 and the average age for a senator was 63. Of course, the 2020 elections brought in some fresh blood. Now the averages are … uh … 58 and 64.
You can listen to the interview here.