Thursday, November 08, 2007

On the "death" tax

From The Political Brain by Drew Westen

With a pound of creativity and an ounce of nerve, Democrats could readily reframe the Republican billionaire bonus, the Iraq adventure that was supposed to pay for itself, and the spending spree for special interests that turned the first budget surplus in thirty years into the largest deficit in American history, into a feeling: moral outrage. The reality is that by racking up such massive deficits, President Bush and his party have instituted the largest new tax ever levied in American history: a tax on the unborn. They eliminated the tax on death and replaced it with a tax on birth. Who do they think is paying for that $70-plus billion a year going to the super rich at a time of massive deficits? Who is “sacrificing” for the Iraq War when its costs aren’t even built into the budget?

The people who have just been hit with an unprecedented birth tax are our children, grandchildren, and their unborn children, who’ll be paying for the sins of their parents and grandparents for decades – with interest. As the father of two young children, it makes my blood boil that my young daughters are being saddled with debt so that George Walker Bush’s friends in Kennebunkport can cheer about their untaxed capital gains and inherit the large fortunes neither they nor most of their parents sweat a drop for, while my children pay off the debt for their newly refurbished yachts. And I’ll bet a lot of middle-class parents would feel just like I do if someone told them what was being done to their children so that 2 percent of the country could clink their glasses of Grand Marnier with a toast to their good fortune.
Westen also points out that instead of buying into the Republicans frame of a "death" tax Democrats might have mentioned:
  • 98% of Americans were already below the existing exemption on inheritance taxes
  • An estate tax was established by the first Republican American president Abe Lincoln (to help pay for the Civil War)
  • Another iconic Republican - Teddy Roosevelt - favored an estate tax because he considered it is fairer to tax inherited wealth than earned income from labor.
Post edited Dec. 13, 2007

1 comment:

Unknown said...

The Institute for the Preservation of Dynastic Wealth ( is another group who believes in abolishing the Estate Tax. They recently launched a national search for a "farmer to front for nation's elite," and just in time for the Senate Finance Committee hearings coming up on Nov 14. Wonder if they will put this talking point to rest once and for all.