The “Panama Papers” scandal fired up on Sunday with some huge fallout pending. God only knows if revelations of Vladimir Putin’s alleged $2 billion money-laundering scheme will affect him (because the 2005 Polonium murder of Alexander Litvinenko and many other controversies did not); but Iceland’s Prime Minister, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, has already toppled under the weight of his own tax-shielding revelations. On a global scale, this scandal could reach a catastrophic level — which is fitting for the largest information leak in history — and the mess will continue once American names start popping out of the leaked files.
Meanwhile, the scandal has inserted itself into the current presidential race in the form of a resurrected 2011 speech from Bernie Sanders. As a member of the Senate Budget Committee, Sanders urged his fellow lawmakers to strike down the Panama Free Trade Agreement. He maintained that the legislation would work little benefit to the U.S. economy and make it easier for rich Americans to set up offshore tax shelters:
“Panama is a small country. It’s entire annual economic output is only $26.7 billion a year, or about two-tenths of 1 percent of the US economy. No one legitimately is going to stand up here and say that trading with such a small country is going to significantly increase American jobs. Then why would we be considering a trade agreement with Panama? Well, it turns out, Mr. President, that Panama is a world leader when it comes to allowing wealthy Americans and large corporations to evade US taxes by stashing their cash in offshore tax havens. And the Panama Free Trade Agreement would make this bad situation much worse.”
Sanders did not prevail in his argument, and President Obama later signed the free trade agreement into law. However, it’s a safe bet that this subject will arrive at the April 14 CNN Democratic debate. After all, Hillary Clinton pushed hard for the deal in an attempt to “deepen our economic engagement throughout the world.” Well, that certainly happened, but not with the desired result. This Clinton State email snippet seems relevant.
After the Panama Papers dropped, the Sanders campaign uploaded video of the aforementioned Senate speech to his Facebook page. Three million views and counting, folks.