The Least, First

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Senators Kyl and Lincoln propose cuts in multi-millionaires’ estate taxes

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UPDATE, April 4: “As the New York Times explained, under Obama’s budget, ‘99.8 percent of estates will never — ever — pay a penny of estate tax.'”


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Jesus’ take on things includes the idea that the rich can help themselves and the poor deserve the help of all of us. That view, espoused by many teachers, has become Government Morality 101 for Christian and non-Christian alike through the centuries: hence, most Americans today believe in progressive tax rates.

The rich have their champions, too. Two senators—one a retirement-state Republican and one a Wal-Mart-headquarters-state Democrat—have proposed relieving the nation of $250 billion to help adult kids of the very rich enjoy wealth without work:

clipped from thinkprogress.org
Sens. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) have offered a $250 billion proposal to cut estate taxes for the children of multi-millionaires
Kyl and Lincoln’s “most pressing issue is clear: America’s wealthiest families need help. Now.”
“only 0.2 percent of the additional cost of the proposal, relative to [the Obama proposal], would go toward tax cuts for small businesses and farms.”
The rest of the cost, approximately $249.5 billion, would go to the inheritors of estates worth over $7 million. Paris Hilton, get excited.
The Waltons — the Arkansas-based family that founded Wal-Mart — are one of the key groups financing the campaign
“With all the serious work before Congress, it is a colossal waste of time to have to rebut the false claims and warped premises of ardent estate-tax cutters,” the NYT writes. “Ms. Lincoln’s and Mr. Kyl’s colleagues in the Senate should make short work of it and move on to urgent matters.”
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I’m sure this will be pitched as a valiant, virtuous war of liberation against the “death tax,” but we’re talking about $7 million estates and up, here, not Grandpa’s 120 acres. And the years of Bush have given us the greatest disparity between rich and poor since the Great Depression.

Moving government income sourcing away from those who can effortlessly afford it and onto the backs of those who earn less is ethically questionable, especially in times like these. And inviting the very rich to create a generation that need not work while those who work for them can’t afford healthcare (with the Waltons, ironically—heirs of America’s largest low-benefit employer—leading the charge) ought to offend us.

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Is it honest to call it “socialism?”

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Morning Joe

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The S-word is back.

For example, watch Morning Joe get exercised about the stimulus proposal’s tax refund to people of low income, followed by analysis from ThinkProgress:

clipped from thinkprogress.org

Joe Scarborough: Obama’s Trying To ‘Buy Off People’ With ‘Pure, Straight Socialism’»

SCARBOROUGH: “You’re not going to get Republicans to line up and support tax cuts for people who don’t pay taxes […] It’s not even welfare. […] If you want pure straight socialism, if you want to buy off people, do that.”
There are enormous problems with this analysis. First, Americans benefiting from the tax cut do pay taxes — sales taxes, payroll taxes, social security taxes — even if they don’t pay income tax. In fact, those in the lowest income bracket pay about 4.3 percent of their income to federal taxes. […]The tax credit isn’t some kind of charity; it’s one of the most effective kinds of tax cuts in terms of stimulating the economy. Moody’s chief ecomomist Mark Zandi showed that the refundable tax credit gives the economy a far greater “bang for the buck” than non-refundable tax cuts, corporate tax cuts, or making Bush’s tax cuts permanent, the “solutions” proposed by conservatives:
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Follow the link for Zandi’s numbers.

Meanwhile, if the tax refund plan is indeed a refund, and if can be shown to be among the most quickly effective tax changes for stimulating the economy, isn’t it what we’re looking for?

And didn’t they teach us in high school that socialism was when the government owns the means of production?  Just how is it that tax refunds accomplish that?

I don’t recall learning that when poor people spend tax refunds at American businesses, capitalism is on the way out.  It would seem just to have just the opposite effect.


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