Thursday, April 16, 2015

Massive Tax Cut For The Wealthiest 0.2%


The status quo that conservatives, by definition, seek to conserve is the status quo of an hereditary aristocracy with a concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a relatively few families. That garbage ideology crossed over the Atlantic and accounts for the third of colonials-- the conservatives-- siding with the British against the Patriots. Today it helps define what the Republican party is. Conservatives-- primarily, but not exclusively, Republicans-- have always opposed the Estate Tax and they are still fighting to abolish it. Tuesday, Dana Milbank skewered the Republicans with this particular mania of theirs.
Give credit to Republicans in Congress.

They’ve discovered, belatedly, that income inequality is a problem, and they’re no longer proposing to give tax breaks to the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans. Now they are proposing to give tax breaks to the wealthiest two-tenths of 1 percent of Americans.

On Tuesday afternoon, the House Rules Committee took up H.R. 1105, the “Death Tax Repeal Act of 2015,” with plans to bring it to a vote on the chamber floor Wednesday-- Tax Day. It is an extraordinarily candid expression of the majority’s priorities: A tax cut costing the treasury $269 billion over a decade that would exclusively benefit individuals with wealth of more than $5.4 million and couples with wealth of more than $10.9 million.

That’s a tax break for only the 5,500 wealthiest households in the country each year, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation. Of those, the 318 wealthiest estates each year-- those worth $50 million or more-- would see an average windfall of $20 million each, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

And this at a time when the gap between rich and poor is already worse than it has been since the Great Depression? Never in the history of plutocracy has so much been given away to so few who need it so little.

This is the ultimate perversion of the tea party movement, which began as a populist revolt in 2009 but has since been hijacked by wealthy and corporate interests. The estate tax has been part of American law in some form since 1797, according to the advocacy group Americans for Tax Fairness, a shield against the sort of permanent aristocracy our founders fought to rid themselves of.

It had long been a conservative ideal, and the essence of the American Dream, to believe that everybody should have an equal shot at success. But in their current bid to end the estate tax, Republicans could create a permanent elite of trust-fund babies.

The estate tax was a meaningful check on a permanent aristocracy as recently as 2001, when there were taxes on the portion of estates above $675,000; even then there were plenty of ways for the rich to shelter money for their heirs. As the son of a schoolteacher and a cabinetmaker, I’d like to see the estate tax exemptions lowered-- so that taxes encourage enterprise and entre­pre­neur­ship while keeping to a minimum the number of Americans born who will never have to work a day in their lives. The current exemption of $5.4 million (the current estate tax has an effective rate averaging under 17 percent, according to the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center) does little to prevent a permanent aristocracy from growing-- and abolishing it entirely turns democracy into kleptocracy.

The kleptocrats offer all sorts of bogus justifications for giving away $269 billion to a few thousand of the wealthiest Americans.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), appearing late Tuesday before the Rules Committee, claimed that the estate tax is “absolutely devastating” to family farms, and he claimed the repeal would remove “an additional layer of taxation” from assets that had already been taxed.

Double taxation? Americans for Tax Fairness, citing Federal Reserve data, notes that 55 percent of the value of estates worth more than $100 million comprises unrealized capital gains that have never been taxed.

Hurting family farmers and small businesses? In the entire country, only 120 small businesses and farms (100 of them large farms) were hit by the estate tax in 2013. And for that tiny number affected, there are all sorts of provisions already in place to soften the blow: low valuation rules, delayed tax payments and other breaks and discounts.
So today House Republicans get to vote on a tax cut for the wealthiest 0.2%. As Social Security Works put it, "If there was any question about whose side they're on, a passing tax cut that would only impact estates larger than $5.4 million while claiming we can't afford our Social Security system makes it clear... As if the $3 trillion tax giveaway to the super-rich embedded in their budget wasn’t enough, they now want to deliver an additional $269 billion tax cut that would only impact two out of every 1,000 estates... The estate tax has been slashed twice already--In 2001 as part of the Bush tax cuts, and again in 2012. It has been reduced to the point where it now only effects estates worth more than $5.4 million for individuals or $10.9 million for couples. Instead of repealing it, Congress should restore the estate tax to its pre-Bush levels and could use that income to expand Social Security."

UPDATE: The Vote

Just after noon, Republicans happily voted to give the wealthiest of the wealthy another massive tax break by eliminating the Estate Tax. The final vote was 240-179. Three Republicans-- Walter Jones (R-NC), David Jolly (R-FL) and Scott Rigell (R-VA)-- voted with the Democrats against this travesty, although 7 right-wing fake Dams crossed the aisle in the other direction and spit in the face of American working families-- these seven:
Brad Ashford (Blue Dog-NE)
Sanford Bishop (Blue Dog-GA)
Jim Costa (Blue Dog-CA)
Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX)
Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN)
Dutch Ruppersberger (MD)
Kyrsten Sinema (Blue Dog-AZ)

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At 7:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Republicans? The first person I heard advocate for the repeal of the "Death Tax" - including the bleeding appeal to family farms - was Steny Hoyer's Legislative Director.

At 8:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The real death tax is the one the GOP imposes on the 99% so that the remainder can live like medieval kings.


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