Conservative lightning rod Grover Norquist is drawing ire over comments he made comparing a bill aiming to punish tax evaders to Nazi Germany.
Several Democratic senators, led by New Yorker Chuck Schumer and Pennsylvanian Bob Casey, introduced legislation last Thursday to discourage Americans from renouncing U.S. citizenship in order to avoid paying taxes on big paydays. The bill, cleverly titled the "Ex-PATRIOT (Expatriation Prevention by Abolishing Tax-Related Incentives for Offshore Tenancy)" Act, was inspired by Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin's decision to give up his American citizenship and move to Singapore in the weeks ahead of his former company's IPO Friday.
Unsurprisingly, conservatives jumped all over Ex-PATRIOT.
The Wall Street Journal editorial board called the bill an attempt to "impose Soviet-style exit taxes to punish people who want to leave the country."
Rush Limbaugh defended Saverin's decision, blaming "class envy" for "chasing people like Eduardo Saverin and other companies out of the country."
But it was Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform who is best known for his no-raising-taxes-not-ever pledge, who used the most colorful description of all. Norquist told The Hill: "I think Schumer can probably find the legislation to do this. It existed in Germany in the 1930s and Rhodesia in the'70s and South Africa as well. He probably just plagerized it and translated it from the original German."
"The East Germans had the position that if you wanted to leave the country you had to pay them back for all the wonderful Communist education they gave you K through 12,” Norquist said. “Schumer’s effort has a really distinguished history.”
Schumer, who is Jewish, has said he is "appalled" by Norquist's comments.
"Grover Norquist says our bill is like fascist Nazi Germany," Schumer said, speaking from the Senate floor Thursday. "I know a thing or two about what Nazis did. Some of my relatives were killed by them."
It's "not even on the same planet as what the Nazis did to the Jews," Schumer said.
After Speaker of the House John Boehner say he may support the Ex-PATRIOT Act, Schumer's spokesman Brian Fallon took one last parting shot--for now--at Norquist.
"When even Speaker Boehner feels free to openly disagree with Grover Norquist, it is official that literally no one cares what Norquist thinks on this issue," Fallon said, in an email to Talking Points Memo.
Your move, Norquist.
UPDATE: A member of Norquist's team denies the comparison to Nazism. "Schumer’s claim about Grover’s comments are simply not true," Americans for Tax Reform communications director John Kartch said in an email. "He did not compare the Ex-Patriot act to Nazism."