My goal for this year is peace and serenity, an "Is that so?" mentality, so I probably should not read the news, and I want to be informed. I must admit my blood pressure went up a bit with this tid-bit, and now, I coax it back down.
Guarding the Family Fortune
Last week, as the unemployment rate hit a 25-year high and nearly one in 10 Americans was receiving food stamps, 10 Democrats in the Senate joined all 41 Republican senators to cut estate taxes for the wealthiest families. The provision would funnel an additional $91 billion over 10 years to the heirs of megafortunes, money that would otherwise have been paid in federal taxes or donated to charity.
With economic pain and suffering on the rise, how do the senators justify a big tax cut for multimillionaires? By asserting that an estate tax cut is just what struggling Americans need.
Senator Blanche Lincoln, a Democrat of Arkansas, co-sponsored the measure with Senator Jon Kyl, a Republican of Arizona. She said it was critical to creating jobs through small businesses. “With all the money we’ve spent to help the economy, very little of it has filtered down to Main Street and family-owned businesses,” she said.
The implication is that upon the death of an owner, estate taxes typically devastate small businesses and the jobs they provide. That is swill.
Under today’s estate tax, which is retained in both the House version of the budget and in President Obama’s version, 99.8 percent of estates will never owe any estate tax. That’s because the tax applies only to estates that exceed $7 million per couple or $3.5 million for individuals, and a vast majority of American families are not and never will be that wealthy.
Of the tiny number of estates that are taxable, almost none are small businesses. A new analysis by the Tax Policy Center found that under 2009 law, only 100 small businesses and family farms would owe any estate tax in 2011. And almost all such estates are able to pay the tax bill without having to sell business assets, according to a report by the Congressional Budget Office. The Lincoln-Kyl tax cut would raise the estate-tax exemption to $10 million per couple ($5 million for singles) and, in an even bigger giveaway to the superrich, lower the top rate from 45 percent to 35 percent.
That sure would enrich the heirs of America’s biggest fortunes. It would not jump-start job creation on Main Street.In addition to Ms. Lincoln, other Democratic senators voting for the estate tax cut were Max Baucus and Jon Tester of Montana, Evan Bayh of Indiana, Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray of Washington, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Bill Nelson of Florida and Mark Pryor of Arkansas.