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Sahil Kapur

Sahil Kapur is TPM's senior congressional reporter and Supreme Court correspondent. His articles have been published in the Huffington Post, The Guardian and The New Republic. Email him at sahil@talkingpointsmemo.com and follow him on Twitter at @sahilkapur.

Articles by Sahil

Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin defended himself Thursday from harsh criticism for having renounced his U.S. citizenship in time to avoid paying a large sum in taxes.

In a statement to TPM from his spokesman Tom Goodman, Saverin said he'll pay the taxes on his earnings while a U.S. citizen.

"My decision to expatriate was based solely on my interest in working and living in Singapore, where I have been since 2009," the 30-year-old billionaire said. "I am obligated to and will pay hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes to the United States government. I have paid and will continue to pay any taxes due on everything I earned while a U.S. citizen. It is unfortunate that my personal choice has led to a public debate, based not on the facts, but entirely on speculation and misinformation."

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Facing a barrage of attacks after a version of President Obama's budget failed 99-0 in the Senate, the White House pushed back Thursday with a simple response: Hold your horses, that wasn't actually our budget.

The White House faced harsh criticism from conservatives and liberals after the vote on the budget, which was put forth by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and used spending targets from Obama's budget proposal offered earlier this year. A similar bill by Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) failed 414-0 in the House.

"As with the Mulvaney resolution in the House, the resolution under consideration in the Senate is not presenting a vote on the President's budget," a senior administration official told TPM. "This is just a gimmick the Republicans are putting forward to distract from what the Ryan-Republican budget does: protects massive tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires while making the middle class and seniors pay."

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New legislation announced Thursday aims to crack down on Americans who renounce their citizenship in order to avoid paying taxes. It would force them to pay a 30 percent tax on all future U.S. investments and prohibit them from ever setting foot in the country again.

The "Ex-PATRIOT Act" was unveiled in the Capitol by Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Bob Casey (D-PA), who made no secret that bill was inspired by Eduardo Saverin, the Facebook co-founder who is in the news after renouncing his U.S. citizenship just in time to avoid paying taxes on a large windfall, and relocating to Singapore, which does not levy capital gains taxes.

"Eduardo Saverin wants to de-friend the United States of America just to avoid paying taxes and we aren't going to let him get away with it," Schumer said. "This is a great American success story gone horribly wrong."

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Under fierce criticism for renouncing his citizenship in time to avoid paying taxes on a major windfall, Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin issued the following statement on Thursday.

The statement in full, sent to TPM by his spokesman Tom Goodman:

My decision to expatriate was based solely on my interest in working and living in Singapore, where I have been since 2009.  I am obligated to and will pay hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes to the United States government. I have paid and will continue to pay any taxes due on everything I earned while a U.S. citizen. It is unfortunate that my personal choice has led to a public debate, based not on the facts, but entirely on speculation and misinformation.

As a native of Brazil who immigrated to the United States, I am very grateful to the U.S. for everything it has given me. In 2004, I invested my life’s savings into a start-up company that initially was run out of a college dorm room.  Since then the company has expanded dramatically, has created thousands of jobs in the United States and elsewhere, and spawned countless new companies across the United States and other countries.

I will continue to invest in U.S. businesses and start-ups, and believe and hope that those investments will create many new jobs in the U.S. and globally. I also hope that these investments will create opportunities for many other individuals to start companies and benefit society.

Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), who trounced Christine O'Donnell in a landslide in 2010, told TPM that by continuing to nominate hard-right candidates, Republicans are boosting Democrats' hopes of keeping the Senate majority.

"I think voters have shown over and over that whenever either party nominates people who are well outside the boundaries of the mainstream consensus of American politics, ultimately they're not successful in the general election, Coons told TPM in the Capitol Thursday. "And I think the outcome of the primary in Indiana may well continue to prove that pattern. For the people of Indiana to lose the service of Sen. Lugar, who has for so long been such a strong contributor on foreign policy, I think, will prove to be a real loss for them because I think this makes it likely that Congressman Donnelly will be the winner."

If not for tea party darling O'Donnell's primary victory in 2010, Coons may not be in the Senate -- he was otherwise set to face moderate Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE), who was well-positioned to defeat him.

This month, Indiana GOP voters unseated longtime Sen. Dick Lugar in favor of State Treasurer Richard Mourdock, giving Democrats a chance to win an otherwise solidly Republican seat.

Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin's decision to renounce his U.S. citizenship just in time to avoid a large tax payment essentially means he will not be able to re-enter the United States again, immigration experts tell TPM.

"There's a specific provision of immigration law that says that a former citizen who officially renounces citizenship, and is determined to have renounced it for the purpose of avoiding taxation, is excludable," said Crystal Williams, executive director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. "So he would not be able to return to the United States if he's found to have renounced for tax purposes."

The provision of law isn't usually enforced, added Williams, "however, this guy is so high profile that this is probably going to be the test case."

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In an awkward move Wednesday, Senate Republicans voted overwhelmingly for two GOP-written budgets that would each let student loan interest rates spike in July, even as they insist they want to avert such an outcome.

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House Speaker John Boehner's demand Tuesday that the next increase in the debt limit be accompanied by dollar-for-dollar "cuts and reforms" apparently comes with a caveat: It doesn't apply to the GOP budget drafted by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI).

Ryan's House-passed blueprint would increase the nation's debt by $5 trillion over a decade, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The plan has the strong support of congressional Republicans and conservatives.

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During a meeting with the White House and congressional leaders Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) affirmed that he wants to reach a deal to prevent a student loan interest rate hike, according to his office.

"We all agreed that rates shouldn't go up this year and that we need to resolve the differences and pass legislation together," McConnell said.

Democrats and Republicans are currently grappling over how to pay for such a measure.

The readout from McConnell's office:

In a cordial lunch meeting, Sen. McConnell pressed the President and the Democrat leadership on the need to produce a bill to prevent the student loan interest rate increase that can actually pass the Senate.

Sen. McConnell noted in the meeting that the Senate passed bipartisan legislation over the past year when poison pills were removed and Republicans were included in the debate (some examples: JOBS Act, Veterans jobs, trade agreements, FAA reauthorization, highway bill, payroll tax holiday, patent reform). And he believes that there is time before the election for even more bipartisan accomplishments.

The White House and Democrats are upping their rhetoric against the GOP after House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) demanded dollar-for-dollar budget savings before raising the debt ceiling again.

In Wednesday's briefing, White House spokesman Jay Carney said President Obama won't accept any ultimatums on raising the debt ceiling that would "recreate the self-inflicted political wounds that nearly collapsed the economy last summer."

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (MD), the Dems' top budget man, echoed the charge Wednesday.

"Republicans have rejected the balanced approach that every bipartisan group has proposed, and now the Speaker of the House is out there again creating a self-inflicted wound on the economy," he told Bloomberg TV. "This is a manufactured crisis, just like it was last August, but it is not harmless."

 

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