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April 29, 2006

It All Makes Sense Now

By Ezra

I'm often confused by the energy in the anti-estate tax movement.  I mean, a somewhat serious tax on massive inheritances seemed so broadly, obviously supportable to me that I could never quite understand how politicians and activists were generating such enthusiasm for its repeal.  But this report (via The Labor Blog) from Public Citizen and United for a Fair Economy clarified things in a hurry:

"Members of a handful of super-wealthy families have quietly helped finance and coordinate a massive campaign to repeal the estate tax.

MonopolymanThese families – the members of which own the first and third largest privately held companies in the United States and hold about a 40 percent share in the world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart – stand to save a whopping $71.6 billion if their bid succeeds.

They have relied on their fortunes, the resources of their companies and their business connections to marshal a massive anti-estate tax juggernaut that has reported nearly a half-billion dollars in lobbying expenditures ($490.3 million) since 1998."

Republicans, and certain vichy Democrats, love to warn against the dangers of class warfare.  And they're right, it is dangerous.  But only to the working class, who are being routed in a conflict that the intelligentsia keeps assuring us isn't actually happening.  And this report won't change that consensus.  The Joe Kleins of the world will hunch down, kindly tousle our hair, and assure all of us that, figuratively speaking, there is no spoon.  And soon, there will be no estate tax, either.

April 29, 2006 | Permalink


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Here's an idea: If you really wish to engage in class warfare and soak the rich, then call for an annual tax on assets over a certain amount.

Posted by: Fred Jones | Apr 29, 2006 3:09:27 PM

These are not the family farmers we heard about, are they?

Posted by: Ed | Apr 29, 2006 3:32:03 PM

I have made it a point since the 2001 tax bill to call GOP tax policy the "Paris Hilton Permanent Trust Fund Act." Reminding people that the superrich are the only ones who benefit is instructive.

There was a fabulous article (NYT? WP?) a while back about the fight in Congress between the merely rich ("mass affluent") and these superrich over what happens after 2011. The former would like to preserve step-up basis and will sacrifice the low gift-and-inheritance tax rates as seen in the Paris Hilton Permanent Trust Fund Act. The latter want lower rates, and are willing to sacrifice step-up basis.

The superrich, almost needless to say, were winning that one, too.

Oh, and to our little baby stalinist: I am deeply impressed by your slavish devotion to the party line. If you have merely a million in debt, then your assets are a pimple on the ass of an accountant for one of these family offices. I could never be as selfless as you; I look at my friends and our parents and conclude step-up basis is way more important to us than a low g&i tax rate. You would appear to be in exactly the same boat, and yet you nevertheless remain ideologically pure. Kudos!

Posted by: wcw | Apr 29, 2006 4:06:24 PM

They have learned well the lessons of chapter 2 of modern conservative Repub. strategy: the advantages of a preemptive attack, accusing the other side of exactly what you plan to do, but hidden always under sheep's hide.

So, when the Repubs plan class warfare, they first attack the Dems for class warfare, decrying the danger to our society, and when they have cowed the media and the Dem. leadership successfully, they then proceed to rape and pillage and burn and say 'suckers' under their breath.

Hey, it works. Time after time. We never learn. We never use their approach. We get what we deserve for being so supine. Dems don't seem to have taken to heart the 'fool me once, fool me twice...' ancient wisdom.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Apr 29, 2006 4:14:42 PM

If you have merely a million in debt, then your assets are a pimple on the ass of an accountant for one of these family offices.

If you have more debt than assets, then how rich are you really?

Posted by: Fred Jones | Apr 29, 2006 5:05:50 PM

Donald Trump, during one of his many passages through the bankruptcy courts, was lamenting to a reporter that a homeless man they passed was wealthier than he, because the beggar had nothing, but The Donald had less than nothing.

The reporter, no idiot, saw through this smokescreen. While I have nothing but contempt for your totalist politics, I find your throwaway comments reveal someone who doesn't lack business acumen. Surely I need not spell out how The Donald differed from the beggar, how the ability to borrow proxies for wealth, or how much an accountant for the superrich is able to borrow.

Posted by: wcw | Apr 29, 2006 6:52:32 PM

Well, when you try to take people's property, don't act surprised when they fight back.

And it's worked. Even though most Americans don't have to pay the estate tax, it offends Americans' sense of justice to take half of an estate when someone dies.

You can't boil down everything to economic interests. If people only voted their own interests, we'd never have rights for African-Americans or homosexuals. The rich can appeal to our sense of justice and fairness just like you can. Liberals need to get over this idea that the rich already have so many advantages that it's okay to pick their pockets everytime they add a new program to their wish list.

Posted by: Adam Herman | Apr 30, 2006 12:19:39 AM

Adam You're probably thinking your apologies for the rich ( every communist's puching bag ) are only fair.
I have problems with trolls who can't ( or won't ) see fair swings both ways : he who benefits most from the current order should be most assertive in promoting it ( not just on the basis of free speech - talk's cheap ).

Posted by: opit | Apr 30, 2006 1:18:23 AM

Adam is correct. It amazes liberals every time the voters don't vote their narrow self-interests as they believed they should.

Posted by: Fred Jones | Apr 30, 2006 8:33:57 AM

"It amazes liberals every time the voters don't vote their narrow self-interests as they believed they should."

Ah, they're everywhere. Limbaugh's dildoheads dutifully spreading their master's bilge. First state a lie, then attack the non-existant liar.
Let's not mention the "narrow" self-interest is merely 98% of the American citizenry. Certainly I feel bad that the Rockefeller heirs were reduced to food stamps under our existing rules.
But that not withstanding, what will happen to the benefits for all Americans these taxes have
supported up to now? But not to worry. The ne're-
do-well worthless dreck you dildoheads foisted on our once great country will solve that one too, as he's done so ably with all the others. "How could 54,000,000 be so stupid?" Simple. close your minds, close your hearts, and dreams about that $400,000,000 gold watch you too will "earn."

Posted by: Paul | Apr 30, 2006 3:59:08 PM

Fine. You can have the estate tax back in exchange for a 3 percentage point across the board reduction in income taxes.

Posted by: Adam Herman | May 1, 2006 7:56:12 AM

Look, it all comes down to what kind of a country
are we. Does our government represent ALL the citizens or those blessed few who can buy access and, therefore representation. All these tax laws didn't pop out of a barrel. They were negotiated over time and we shouldn't go slashing them, Taliban style, because there's a window of opportunity now. The immoral pain we are causing the poor and middle class is without precedent in our history. The glee with which the rich, and the naive rich wannabees, inflict this pain is sickening. It's like that scene from "2001, a space odyssey" where the ape has an epiphany, realizing he can conquer his foes using a new tool/weapon, bones. All your buzzword talking points, "class warfare" are spewed by those taking advantage of "class warfare." Should all oppressed people shut up for fear of being tagged with this lable? The duplicity of you people is amazing. The jews, the day after Kristalnacht, should have been arrested for littering, I suppose. I'm not a religious person but I wonder how you Good Christians reconcile your sadism with the teachings of Jesus.

Like they say, "every puppy has his day" and yours is coming. From Mussolini to Marcos, George Bush and his psycophants will see theirs.

Posted by: Paul | May 1, 2006 1:49:49 PM

yeah, explain to me why talking about class is a loser. yet one more example of the democrats fellow-travelling w/ the GOP in stripping essentail terms out of the debate.

didn't we all have to read orwell in junior high?

mmm . . . doubleplus good.

Posted by: mencken | May 1, 2006 5:03:10 PM

or maybe fred can answer my question by dragging his perpetual motion machine of red-baiting out of the closet.

think about it. I haven't.

Posted by: mencken | May 1, 2006 6:38:33 PM

i like what your blog is about. nice work.

Posted by: Rakeback | Jun 5, 2007 8:01:03 PM

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