Words can clarify or obfuscate. The U.S. Senate is wrangling over repealing the estate tax. The front page article in the NYT Wednesday reports that a slim majority of voters support repeal of the estate tax when it is called 'The death tax.' A slim majority of voters fooled by words is less than the Senate is hoping to activate, I am sure. Politics and political careers are at stake. With congressional and presidential elections coming up, candidates have to weigh and balance winning strategies.
The estate tax applies to about 5,200 people currently. In the Business section of NYT yesterday, David Cay Johnston notes, "Over the last decade, 18 of the wealthiest families in the country have spent more than $200 million lobbying to repeal the estate tax." Families such as the Mars candy family, Gallo wine family and the Walton's of Wal-Mart. The tax does not affect 80 percent of Americans and the amount collected from the estates of wealthy people is more than taxes paid by the 65 million taxpayers who earn less than $29,000. Yikes!
The proponents of repeal say that the tax savings will spur investment and create jobs. More jobs at Wal-Mart…hmm…
I think 'death tax' obfuscates the reality of this progressive tax. A leading tax economist argues that the tax, "discouraged dynastic wealth and thus encouraged economic vitality." Economic vitality is what we want to achieve for our children, all of them without exception.
Last month middle-income families lost the college tuition deduction. Without our youth's continued education and access to higher learning, families’ futures are cut off at the root and can wither on the vine. Now, that is a death tax.
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