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Senator Carl Levin: Watchdog for America

December 28, 2011

By Ann Hollingshead

Ann Hollingshead is a Financial Transparency Coalition blog contributor, whose posts appear weekly. Formerly a Junior Economist at Global Financial Integrity, Ann is now pursuing a Master of Public Policy (MPP) from the University of California Berkeley. Follow her on Twitter: @AnnHollingshead.

Last week, Global Financial Integrity (GFI) awarded its most prestigious honor, the Award for Exemplary Leadership, to Senator Carl Levin (D-MI). The Senator is the third person to receive this award and, given his long and exemplary career of leadership, it was well-deserved. He accepted the award at The Army and Navy Club inWashington,DC.

Senator Levin’s record of protecting American families, particularly by holding powerful institutions accountable, began with the first piece of legislation he proposed as a U.S. senator–a bill to end discrimination by credit card companies. Over his tenure in the U.S. Senate, Senator Levin has proved himself a formidable adversary for those powerful interests who seek to take advantage of weakness in our economic and financial system at the expense of ordinary Americans. He led investigations of the 2008 financial crisisabusive credit card practices, the Enron collapse, and speculation in energy and food markets.

Senator Levin has forcefully pursued his role as watchdog for Americain the field of overseas tax evasion and foreign bribery. To this end he has sponsored three pieces of legislation that promote transparency and financial integrity:

The Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act (S. 1346). This bill would permanently close offshore tax loopholes, which in turn would raise revenue and increase transparency and accountability for multinational businesses. The bill would also require annual country-by-country reporting by SEC-registered corporations related to their employees, sales, purchases, sales, financing arrangements, and taxes. Raymond Baker, director of Global Financial Integrity, has called it a “game changer.”

The Incorporation Transparency and Law Enforcement Assistance Act (S. 1483). This bill would require companies to disclose the names of the beneficial owners of corporations and limited liability companies (LLCs) when formed. This would close a major loophole criminals exploit to launder their funds within U.S. boarders and strengthen law enforcement officials’ ability to keep criminal and tax evading money out of the United States.

The Equal Access to Tax Planning Act (S. 139). This bill would prevent companies and individuals from receiving patents on tax strategies, which prevent taxpayers from using certain tax strategies unless they are willing to pay for them. This bill would therefore ensure there is a free flow of innovation in the tax planning realm and reins in the cottage industry of those encouraging inappropriate tax avoidance strategies.

Senator Levin’s track record of leadership is as wide as it is deep. In addition to the abovementioned issues, he has been actively involved in legislation to protect the environment and natural resources and as the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has shown resolve and commitment to taking care of the men and women who serve in the United States military.

Senator Levin is no stranger to recognition: TIME magazine has called him “one ofAmerica’s 10 best senators” and in 2007 he received the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Foundation’s Four Freedoms Medal.

It is an honor to be involved with an organization that associates with such honorable, forceful, and exemplary individuals. Particularly when those individuals are vigorous and relentless in their pursuit of integrity and accountability.

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Disclaimer: Unless specifically stated to be the views of the Financial Transparency Coalition, the opinions expressed on this blog are solely the opinions of the individual blogger and are not necessarily those of the Financial Transparency Coalition.

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