Tuesday, May 30, 2006


Harold Meryson Knows What's Up

The man speaks:

The Senate, meanwhile, is scheduled next week to take up legislation by Arizona Republican Jon Kyl that would permanently repeal the estate tax on the wealthiest Americans. If enacted, Kyl's bill would plunge the government another trillion dollars into the red during the first decade (2011-2021) that it would be in effect.

Behind the scenes, the action has been on the Democratic side in the Senate, as the party's leadership has sought to dissuade Montana's Max Baucus, ranking Democrat on the Finance Committee, from forging a halfway-house compromise with Kyl that would deplete revenue by only $500 billion to $600 billion during that decade. The Republicans would need Baucus to bring roughly a half-dozen Democrats along with him to reach the magic number of 60 votes required to overcome any filibuster that the vast majority of Democrats would mount to block any such measure.

Even a paltry $500 billion, of course, is a lot of money to drain from public coffers just when boomers are going onto Social Security and Medicare and the number of employers providing health insurance, if present trends continue, might have dropped to a virtuous handful. To cover those and other needs, Congress will either plunge us deeper into debt or increase some other levies -- payroll taxes, say -- that will come out of the pockets of the 99 percent of Americans whom the estate tax doesn't touch.

Hey, "Anonymous," are you listening? I bet you're a wingnut shill, but of course I can't prove it. If you don't think the wingnut allies are going to respond, you better get ready to deal with it.

This is going to be a major fight. At least I hope so. What we need are more Lamonts and less Liebermans. What I'm afraid of is that too many Democrats will be like Lieberman.

Myerson calls it "lunacy." If you ask me, that's too easy. To take a page from the wingnut playbook, I'd call it "evil".


Gary Farber = shrill, shrill, shrill

Well said by Amygdala:

The Republicans have sold this thing by lying about it doesn't just affect the immensely wealthy, but affects small farmers, which is nonsense. They've convinced a lot of people that they or their children, will ultimately be in danger of having to pay this tax when, in fact, unless you're a member of one of thes efamilies, that isn't going to happen.

You might want to look into it, and spread the word. Not paying down the deficit takes that trillion dollars away from everyone's children.

Word. Up. He also links to a Raw Story PDF from Rep. Henry Waxman's office that seems to have been the basis for the Common Dreams article I linked to earlier.

It's too early to say that momentum is building in opposition to the Estate Tax repeal... I just hope it's not too late for this opposition to work.


Investing to Divest from the Common Good

The first major blogger weighs in, so far as I know, and it's the esteemed Ezra Klein at Tapped, the blog for the American Prospect:

THAT EXPLAINS IT. If you're ever confused about the GOP's puzzling determination to eliminate the broadly supportable estate tax, this report showing that George Bush, Dick Cheney, and their cabinet will personally gain between $90 and $340 million dollars from the tax's repeal clarifies things considerably. As for amassing the political will for the battle, a recent Center for Public Integrity report found that a handful of superrich families had spent $490 million lobbying against the tax. If they succeed, these same families will gain almost $72 billion. Now that's what I call a good investment.

Who could be puzzled by this I'm not sure, except maybe the 101st Fighting Keyboarders who probably support obscene divestments of the public funds to the layabout IIIs and IVs of this country, but any reasonable person shouldn't be surprised.


How to stop the Big Corporate Giveaway

From Common Dreams:

New Report Reveals Estate Tax Repeal Would Give Over $200 Million Windfall to Oil Company Executives

WASHINGTON - May 30 - Next week the Senate is scheduled to consider legislation (H.R. 8) to repeal the estate tax. Repealing the tax, which has been law since 1916, is estimated to cost $1 trillion from 2011-2021. Although the tax affects few Americans, repeal will give some families extraordinary windfalls. The CEO's of major oil companies, for instance, would get enormous benefits if H.R. 8 were enacted. The family of one oil executive, Lee Raymond (the former ExxonMobil CEO), alone could receive a tax break worth over $160 million.

This report analyzes the impact that repeal would have on the families of the senior executives for the major oil companies. In 2005, the minority staff of the Government Reform Committee released a similar analysis showing that repealing the estate tax repeal would save the President, Vice President, and 11 cabinet members as much as $344 million.

The reports are available on-line at www.democrats.reform.house.gov.

That's our future the Republicans want to give away. Will you let that happen?

This weekend I found a site for a group that must be the only group out there that's paying attention to any of this, called Coalition 4 America's Priorities. They have phone numbers for your representatives in DC and in their home districts or states, and I encourage you to call as many as you can. I've already called mine, and think I might just call a few more.

Does anyone know much more about this group? Are they running ads or sponsoring anything in Washington? It would be nice to think my little blog isn't the only site trying to bring attention to this issue.

Sunday, May 28, 2006


Bob Fertik Knows What's Up

So far the netroots have been too silent about the impending estate tax vote, but not the estimable Bob Fertik at Democrats.com

Is Another Trillion Dollar Tax Cut for Millionaires A Good Idea?

Please block the proposed repeal or partial repeal of what's left of the estate tax, and condemn its supporters for this latest attempt to transfer working people's wealth to the super-wealthy. Senator Jon Kyl's (R-AZ) "reform" proposal would eliminate most of what remains of this tax, a tax that is needed to slow the division of our nation into permanent hereditary classes, and a tax that is desperately needed right now to pay for essential services like Medicaid and student loans. These services are under threat, as we are already facing enormous deficits driven by reckless spending on an illegal war and destructive tax cuts.

Go sign his petition.


Peter Beinart is shrill

I can't believe I just wrote that.

Nobody who knows a thing about blogging thinks much of Peter Beinart, but it turns out that earlier this month he wrote a column that hit it on the head about the estate tax. It's not just about this particular section of code in US law. It's about the future of this country:

Later this month, in all likelihood, congressional Republicans will again try to repeal the tax on inherited wealth. If they succeed, they won't stop there. The assault on the estate tax is a stalking-horse for something much bigger: the assault on progressive taxation itself. Already, a national "fair tax" movement--endorsed by House Speaker Dennis Hastert--wants to replace the income tax with a national sales tax, in which rich and poor pay the same rate. If the estate tax falls, it is the income tax Democrats will find themselves defending next.

Hey, stopped clocks, right?

One note of dissent, though. Beinart raises the fact that Paris Hilton is just the kind of person who would benefit from the repeal of the estate tax. And who doesn't hate Paris Hilton? (Mmaybe except for Gawker, they need her.) Many progressives have used the "Paris Hilton" line before, and I think this might be a mistake. She may be just too frivolous to bring into the debate, when conservatives will try to talk about family farms instead. The fact that no one takes Paris Hilton seriously might actually detract from our argument, since mentioning her name might make us sound too ridiculous. Instead we should focus on Bush and Cheney and their oil buddies. Everybody hates Paris Hilton, but ultimately she's harmless. And her approval ratings are probably higher than theirs (Cheney's for sure). And Bush and Cheney, Halliburton and KBR, T. Boone Pickens and Kenny Boy -- they're anything BUT harmless. Why would we want to put more money in the hands of these people who have caused actual, noticeable, real harm to this country? Paris Hilton is just incidental. It's the bigwigs and the bigwig jrs. that are the problem.

But maybe I'm wrong here. Thoughts?

Saturday, May 27, 2006


We Have Seen The Enemy...

And it's these people.

They call themselves NoDeathTax.org, using the typical and unfortunately effective line that the estate tax is a "death tax." That's bullshit, and they know it. Dead people don't pay taxes, even if they're plutocrats. No, their inheritors are the ones who pay a tax upon the receipt of millions of dollars -- need we even mention those are the only people who pay this tax?? -- just as they would with any asset transfer this large.

And they're from the outright lie of a name "American Family Business Institute." Oh well, if they're an "Institute," never mind then!

Keeping the estate tax as part of federal law a no-brainer, which is probably why they're so afraid John McCain will do the right thing and vote to keep it. They're running a TV spot to try to convince him, which you should watch just so you know exactly what they're saying.

If you live in Arizona, please call John McCain's office -- (202) 224-2235 in DC, click here for the others -- and tell him to vote to do the right thing. It so happens that John Kyl, the other Republican senator from Arizona is a co-sponsor of the Frist bill. So once you've called McCain's people, you should call Kyl, too -- (202) 224-4521 in DC, (602) 840-1891 in Phoenix. He's not going to budge -- but we have to let him know we're here, too.

Friday, May 26, 2006


What's The Matter With Kansas?

Apart from everything else we know, we can add to the list the fact that Kansas Democratic governor, Kathleen Sebelius, just signed a bill eliminating the state's estate tax.

Well, at least Kansas doesn't have an ongoing war to pay for, or a deficit in the billions or a debt in the trillions. Maybe a better question is, what's the matter with the US Senate?



The sign of the beast? Well, duh.

But it's not just that -- it's also 6/6/06 -- that's the day Bill Frist and the Senate GOP have set to end the estate tax, also called the inheritance tax, which they have wrongly called the "death tax" -- forevever.

Are they really that diabolical, or just lucky?

Who knows. That doesn't matter. What does matter is the netroots have GOT to come together and let our represenatives know that we have to reform this revenue source, and cannot let the Senate sacrifice our future for the sake of Bush's golfing buddies.

Are you with us?

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