The immorality of the estate tax repeal
It is hard to believe that Paul Ryan (R-WI) and his ilk would be so blatant in showing that there main purpose in Congress is to serve the rich, the wealthy. This is neither hyperbole nor an exaggeration. The Washington Post’s Matt O’Brien says it best.
A specter is haunting America’s super-rich — the specter of progressive taxation.
Don’t worry, though, the Republican Party is manning the barricades against this menace. That’s been true for the last 35 years, and it’s no less so now. Indeed, the Paul Ryan-led House Ways and Means Committee just symbolically voted to end the estate tax entirely. In other words, to stand in solidarity with the heirs of the top 0.2 percent.
That’s how many households pay the estate tax now: 2 out of 1,000. Why so low? Well, the first $5.43 million that an individual or $10.86 million that a couple leaves behind isn’t taxed when they pass away. The estate tax, with its 40 percent top rate, only kicks in for anything more than that. And even then, creative accountants and big deductions can shield a lot of the rest from Uncle Sam. So it’s important to remember that there’s a difference between the top marginal tax rate and the effective tax rate that estates pay. Since the super-rich only owe the estate tax on some of what they own, they actually pay, on average, 16.6 percent of the value of their estate.
Here is the thing, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the estate tax repeal would cost $269 Billion dollars in reduced revenues between fiscal 2016 and 2025. If one counts the incurred interest on the debt from the deficit it would create, the figure jumps to $320 Billion. Worse, the estate tax repeal affects only 0.2% of Americans. In other words, 99.8% of Americans get no benefit from said tax cut because they could not possibly inherit, get income and capital they did not work for, that would qualify for said estate tax repeal.
At the same time that Paul Ryan and his ilk are willing to donate more financial benefits to their wealthy benefactors, their budget cuts $5 Trillion in programs during the same period for low and moderate income Americans. They also make deep cuts in investments that strengthen productivity and future economic growth such as education, training, and basic research.
The estate tax repeal is an immoral act. Firstly the rich did not get wealthy in a vacuum. Absent a system that transfers the value of ones excess labor to the employer/shareholder, the rich would not have more than the working person. As such they owe our entire society for existing within an economic model that affords them their wealth. Transferring said wealth upon death to a heir who did not earn said wealth tax free is one of the most immoral acts. It is a transfer of unearned wealth without a pay-in to the society that allowed for its existence.
There are over 300 million Americans. As pointed out by Ed Schultz and Congressman Chris van Hollen, Paul Ryan and his ilk are willing to inflict further pain on the poor and the middle-class to give free money to about 4,000 super rich Americans. That is immoral. One can only guess Paul Ryan and his ilk follow the doctrine of this Christian Conservative who believes it’s heresy to deny that God entitles the rich at the expense of the masses.
These politicians will continue acting with disregard for the masses until the masses mobilize with a conviction politicians cannot deny. Mobilization does not only mean street protest though that is a part of it.
Mobilization means doing what you are capable of doing to be a part however small or large in forcing a change, hounding your representative on the phone, fax, and via letters. Mobilization means calling into Koch inspired Right Wing talk shows to use their platform to tell the truth even if you simply get 10 seconds to do so.
Mobilization means voting and encouraging and taking others to vote. Mobilization means civilly providing truth in a digestible manner to your family, neighbor, or acquaintance anywhere (grocery store, coffee shop, hair salon, barber shop, etc.)
Mobilization means being involved and engaged. Paul Ryan and his ilk can lie, confuse, and misinform because enough of us in the grassroots in the know are not as relentless in enlighting our family, friends, neighbors, and acquaintances. Let’s get busy.