ACT NOW to Wake Up Washington: Estate Tax & Bush Tax Cuts

Call Congress TodayThe holidays are here and Congress has returned to Washington. We have only a few weeks to get Congress to do the right thing about the estate tax and the Bush tax cuts. Republicans want Congress to be Santa Claus for the wealthy by showering the gifts of more tax cuts on the richest 0.25 percent of taxpayers.
They believe a $7 million tax-free inheritance is simply not enough for the heirs and heiresses of multi-millionaires.
They also want to shower an additional $700 billion over 10 years on people earning more than $250,000 per year by extending the top-tier Bush tax cuts – and they're holding tax cuts for 98 percent of Americans hostage to get what they want.
They’re "Scrooging" the long-term unemployed by cutting their unemployment benefits, arguing that the deficit is too high. And yet, they don’t see the need to pay for tax cuts for the already well-off.
CALL THE WHITEHOUSE switchboard at 202-456-1414, or the comment line at 202-456-1111.

CALL YOUR TWO SENATORS AND YOUR REPRESENTATIVE at the toll-free Congressional switchboard at 800-830-5738.
Tell the President and Congress that you want:
  1. An estate tax at the 2009 level or stronger; 
  2. A separate up or down vote on the middle-class tax cuts (those earning $250,000 per year or less), and an end to the top-tier tax breaks;
  3. And, that you want that tax revenue to go towards a robust jobs creation program – one that will put Americans back to work in good jobs that add value to society, and will create the demand we need to get our economy's wheels turning again.
You can also help by:
  • Signing and circulating our online petition, the Call to Preserve the Estate Tax;
  • Submitting op-eds and/or letters to the editor of your newspaper;
  • Blogging and sharing information (including this action alert) on your social networks;
  • Hosting local meetings to discuss why, now more than ever, your community needs a progressive federal tax system, and to develop a plan for collective action - call us for help.
Anti-tax groups are not going down without a fight, so please do as much as you're able to amplify your voice in support of federal tax fairness.
Thank you so much for taking action!
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Snooki, Vegas Suites, Captive Monkeys & Taxes

Brave New Films does it again! This time, they share the common thread between several seemingly unrelated subjects: a reality show star (if that's what they're called), expensive hotel rooms, monkeys in private captivity, and the roiling debate over the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy.

While the connections are loose, the video still sends a pretty powerful message about wealth, status and austerity for folks scraping by in the US. And, it's kinda funny. For those reasons, we're paying it forward. Enjoy.

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Wealthy Voices for Fiscal Sacrifice

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Among the wealthy, a new voice for fiscal sacrifice

By Katrina vanden Heuvel
Column published in The Washington Post, November 30, 2010

Katrina vanden HeuvelPresident Obama's discussion Tuesday with leaders of both parties about the expiring Bush tax cuts comes at a time when a growing chorus of progressives and other reasonable-minded Americans have been ramping up pressure on the White House to allow the cuts for millionaires to end - as intended - at the end of the year. Last week that chorus was joined by a group of unlikely, albeit welcome new singers: the millionaires themselves.

In a November letter to President Obama, a group calling itself Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength argued that the wealthiest Americans do not need, and should not be given, an extension on tax cuts that have done next to nothing to improve broad economic prosperity. "We are writing to urge you to stand firm against those who would put politics ahead of their country," the letter's authors write. "Now, during our nation's moment of need, we are eager to do our fair share."

Signers include a number of early Google executives as well as leaders of companies such as Ben and Jerry's, Men's Wearhouse and Princeton Review. They aren't the first group of ultra-wealthy people to signal discomfort with senseless fiscal policy designed to benefit the top 2 percent. A group of 700 business leaders and individuals known as Responsible Wealth have called the Bush tax cuts "irresponsible" and "downright inexcusable." Bill Gates Sr. and Warren Buffet, of course, have also called for a change in priorities.

For the most part, these are not the kinds of proclamations we have come to expect from America's rich. More often than not their views are distilled through megaphones such as the Chamber of Commerce, which wield outsized influence and use both foreign and national dollars to further the causes of the relative few. We have come to expect America's wealthy to stand behind the Republican Party - a party itself composed largely of millionaires in Congress - and to demand new income tax cuts, or corporate loopholes, or the end of the estate tax, even while they peddle faux concern about the federal government's long-term debt position.

It's worth remembering, however, that it wasn't always this way.

There was a time when the concept of patriotism - the idea of putting country above self - extended beyond our foreign policy. There was a time when economic patriotism was very much a part of the business community's mind-set, even embedded in the worldview of the kinds of Northeast Republicans who are now all but extinct. Robert Johnson, for example, one of the founders of Johnson & Johnson, urged his business colleagues in a 1947 speech never to ignore the plight of the working class. Doing so, he said, "is as foolish as it would be to ignore public health, crime, and the need for education."

During the golden era of the 1950s, a Republican president, along with Republican members of Congress, accepted a top marginal tax rate for millionaires that was 91 percent. "The only way to make more tax cuts now is to have bigger and bigger deficits and to borrow more and more money," President Eisenhower argued. "This is one kind of chicken that always comes home to roost. An unwise tax cutter, my fellow citizens, is no real friend of the taxpayer."

That sentiment would be unimaginable coming out of the mouth of a modern Republican. Ideology has trumped that kind of frankness and logic. Instead, the business community and the wealthy, and the Republican Party they prop up, have abandoned principle and policy - as well as any sense of a social compact - in exchange for a totally distorted view of reality. [...]

Millionaires aren't better off over the long run with the continuation of the Bush tax cuts. They'd be better off if the $700 billion it will take to pay for those cuts was instead put into new stimulative efforts - the kind of efforts that would spur real economic growth. Those initiatives would create jobs and new prosperity not just for the wealthy, but for everyone. [...]

Read the full column by Katrina vanden Heuvel on

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Estate Tax as a Hurdle to Resolving Bush-era Tax Cuts

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Return of Estate Tax Looms as Final Impediment to Extending Bush Tax Cuts

By Ryan Donmoyer
Column posted on, Novmber 29, 2010

Ending the uncertainty over extending Bush-era tax cuts may rest on resolving a decade-long debate over death and taxes.

The federal levy on estates is set to increase the most of all as tax cuts expire Jan. 1, jumping from zero to 55 percent for fortunes worth more than $1 million at death. President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress barely mention it as they spar with Republicans over whether to keep income-tax reductions for top earners.

A new tax on multimillion-dollar estates may emerge as the final hurdle to a deal that preserves most or all of former President George W. Bush’s tax cuts, analysts said. Congress has unsuccessfully sought at least a half-dozen times to resolve the issue since 2000, including an abandoned effort last December to prevent the estate tax’s expiration.

“The history on the estate tax is every time there’s almost an agreement someone leaves the table in the belief they’ll get a better deal next time,” said Clinton Stretch, a managing principal at the Washington consulting firm Deloitte Tax LLP.

With Obama planning to meet with bipartisan congressional leaders at the White House tomorrow, three main factions have formed in the Senate, none of which has the 60 votes needed to advance an estate-tax proposal. One includes Republicans such as South Carolina’s Jim DeMint who favor permanent repeal. Another is led by Democrats including Majority Leader Harry Reid who support a top rate of 45 percent that would apply after a $3.5 million tax-free allowance.

Moral Issue

A third faction, led by Arizona Republican Jon Kyl and Arkansas Democrat Blanche Lincoln and embraced by Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, backs setting the top rate at 35 percent after a $5 million exemption.

Forging an agreement has proven more complicated than splitting the difference on the numbers because this has been cast as a moral issue, said Lee Farris, senior organizer on estate-tax policy for United for a Fair Economy, a Boston-based group that advocates reinstating the estate tax.

Opponents criticize the estate tax as an unfair levy that destroys family businesses while proponents of the tax, who include billionaires Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, view it as essential to preserving meritocracy in U.S. society. That argument has gained steam this past year with the deaths of at least five U.S. billionaires, including New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.

“People are more dug in on their estate-tax positions on both sides than they are on the other positions,” Farris said. [...]

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Why We Should Tax the Wealthy to Reduce the Deficit

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'Tax us' to ease deficit, say some wealthy Americans

Column by Agence France-Presse, November 25, 2010

Globe - Stop Tax Breaks for the WealthyWith the US Congress hurtling toward a deadline on expiring tax cuts, a growing number of wealthy people are calling for higher taxes on the rich to help restore America's fiscal health. 

One effort gathered over 45 millionaires who signed an open petition calling for the end of the tax cuts adopted since 2001 on those with annual incomes exceeding one million dollars.

Tax breaks for the wealthy should expire "for the fiscal health of our nation and the well-being of our fellow citizens," the letter said. It was signed by Ben & Jerry's ice cream founder Ben Cohen, hedge fund manager Michael Steinhardt and others.

Guy Saperstein, a retired California trial lawyer who organized the effort, said he was "frustrated" that President Barack Obama appeared to be wavering on his pledge to end tax cuts for the wealthy.

"I think the country's in trouble," Saperstein told AFP. "In hard times, the top strata who have done fabulously well need to sacrifice a bit, and it's not much of a sacrifice... We have among the lowest tax rates of any industrialized democracy."

Saperstein said an estimated 1,500 people have signed the letter although some of them did not want to be publicly identified on the group's website.

Philippe Villers, a French-born US businessman who founded Computervision in the 1960s and now heads Grain Pro, says he signed the letter even though it would mean higher taxes for himself.

"I don't think (extending the tax cuts for the wealthy) are fair or in the interest of building a strong economy," he said.

Villers argued that tax cuts enacted under former president George W. Bush gave a "disproportionate benefit to people with means" and contributed to the current economic woes.

Another 410 high-income Americans have signed a similar petition by Wealth for the Common Good, a network of business and civic leaders, calling for tax cuts to expire for families with incomes above 250,000 dollars.

"I've had a good run over the last few years. There's no question that others now deserve to share in that prosperity," said one of the signatories, Jeffrey Hayes, president of Stratalys Research & Consulting.

Similar comments have come from Warren Buffett, the investment guru who ranks among the world's richest individuals.

"I think that people at the high end -- people like myself -- should be paying a lot more in taxes. We have it better than we've ever had it," Buffett said in an ABC News interview.

The efforts come with Congress struggling in the face of tax cuts expiring at the end of this year.

If no action is taken by December 31, the current top rates of 33 and 35 percent would return to pre-Bush levels of 36 and 39.6 percent for the richest Americans. But taxes would also rise on all Americans if Congress fails to act.

Many Republicans are pressing to extend the tax cuts to stimulate a wobbly economy.

Obama and his Democratic allies are urging extended tax cuts for all but the wealthiest two percent of Americans -- claiming this move would help raise 700 billion dollars over 10 years to ease a crushing deficit.

"I'm glad there is a group of people who are sticking out their necks to say, 'Tax me more,'" said Mike Lapham of United For a Fair Economy's Responsible Wealth project, which has recruited 700 people in high-income brackets to work for a more progressive tax structure. (emphasis added)

"People complain that the government should do more for New Orleans (after Hurricane Katrina) and for the (Gulf of Mexico) oil spill, but the reality is we've cut back on a lot of the things our government could do." [...]  

Read the rest of this column on or



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The Rick Smith Show: Unemployment Benefits Held Hostage

The Rick Smith Show logo

November 19, 2010

UFE's Lee Farris joined Rick Smith – Pennsylvania talk show host and voice of the working class – to discuss the outright betrayal of struggling Americans by Congressional Republicans, who are holding unemployment benefits for millions of people hostage in their misguided push for permanent extension of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.

Download an MP3 of Rick's interview with Lee Farris. (37.5 MB)

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Pushing on a String: Why Tax Breaks for the Rich Won’t Help

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Pushing on a string: Why tax breaks for the rich won’t help

By Brian Miller
Originally posted on The Hill's Congress Blog, November 22, 2010

Income Quintiles from 1947-1979The future of America’s middle class is at stake as the battle over the Bush tax cuts heats up in Washington. Despite the fact that a strong majority of Americans support ending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest, some in Congress are still hesitant. It’s at times like these that we should take a long, hard look at what got us into this economic mess.

On the eve of the Great Recession in 2007, income inequalities in America were at their highest levels since just before the Great Depression. 50 percent of all income went to the top 10 percent in 1928, leaving the bottom 90 percent to vie over the other half. That dropped to just over 30 percent during the Great Prosperity from 1942 to 1979, leaving nearly 70 percent of income for the remaining 90 percent of households, though overt racism barred many from sharing in that prosperity. The purchasing power of that broad and strong middle class became fuel for the roaring engine of our nation’s economy.

Then in 1980 our nation began to grow apart again – a divergence kicked off by financial deregulation and tax cuts for the wealthy. The growing divide was made worse by the assault on organized labor and the weakening of social safety nets. By 2007, income inequalities had reverted to pre-Depression levels. Mark Twain once said, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” And so it does.

With so much money in so few hands, high stakes speculation and wild bubble rides on Wall Street destabilized our economy. When the house of cards came down, it fell right on top of middle-class Americans. Communities were ravaged – with the stripping away of jobs, homes and savings – while the Wall Street gamblers sat comfortably in their velvety casino chairs lighting another cigar.

Income Quintiles from 1979-2008So far the economic recovery has been very one-sided. For low- and middle-income Americans, unemployment continues to be painfully high and millions of homes are in foreclosure. On the other hand, the Dow Jones has largely recovered since it bottomed out in early 2009, while the Wall Street crowd and Big Business execs are once again rolling in extravagant bonuses. For the wealthy, the recession’s storm has passed.

Despite this one-sided recovery, Congressional Republicans are telling us the problem with our economy is that rich people don’t have enough money. They want to make the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans permanent, adding $700 billion to our national debt over the next 10 years, paid for with more borrowed money. Ironically, these are the same people screaming about deficits. Of course, they claim that this is about creating jobs, but those tax breaks are more likely to sit in a bank or be invested overseas.

More importantly, pouring even more money into the pockets of the wealthy simply won’t get our economy moving again, especially in a recession as deep as this. Such a top down, “supply-side” strategy for economic growth is like pushing on a string. It’s futile and a wasteful use of borrowed money. It simply won’t work without a strong middle class to pull on the other end of that string, with the purchasing power to buy the goods and services produced.

It’s time to rebuild our economic engine by putting middle-class families first. Instead of expensive and wasteful tax breaks for the very rich, we should be focused on strengthening our middle class. Obama is right to target tax cuts to those earning less than $250,000. Even better, let’s use public dollars to create jobs directly for middle-class households while making long-term investments in our communities, such as building light rail for our cities and bullet trains in major corridors, installing green energy retrofits to public buildings, and putting more teachers in our schools.

Funny thing about pulling on a string. It moves even if there’s no one pushing on the other end. That’s the beauty of demand-side economic growth strategies. With a long-term focus on revitalizing our nation’s middle class with good-paying jobs, we can sow the seeds of another – more inclusive – Great Prosperity.

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Keep Pressure Up for a Strong Estate Tax

Conservatives in Congress say they are worried about small businesses and farms, so they want to repeal the estate tax at a cost of $700 billion over 10 years, or slash it at a cost of $383 billion. The same officials say they are worried about the deficit, but they want to spend another $700 billion to extend the Bush income tax cuts for the wealthy.It’s outrageous!

Call your two Senators and Representative now, toll-free, at 800-830-5738.

Tell them your name, your city/town of residence, and say:

  1. We don’t need more tax cuts for millionaires. We need a strong estate tax. I’d like the Senator to push for higher estate tax rates for multi-millionaires and billionaires, and vote against unlimited deductions for farms.

  2. I’d also like the Senator to end the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.

  3. Congress should invest that money in programs that will put Americans back to work, create opportunities for our children and pay down our debt.

  4. Ask: Where does the Senator stand on the estate tax and the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy?

Add a personal statement about who you are and why you oppose cutting the estate tax, such as, “I am a small business person, and it is a myth that the estate tax hurts small businesses,” or “I am wealthy and will gladly pay the estate tax, because I believe it’s an important part of a fair tax system.”  

Your calls are important. They make more of a difference than emails, because Congressional offices count the calls.

Let us know how your three calls went by sending an email to Tell us the name of your legislators, and what the staffers told you.

And, about that small business myth -- UFE just held a national press teleconference with four American business owners who strongly support the estate tax. Check out our press release for more. Watch an interview with one of our speakers below!

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Personal Finance for Economic Justice

Where would Jesus bank?This afternoon a spirited crowd of 150 people showed up at the Bank of America’s (BoA) main branch in Boston to kick off a campaign called “Move Our Money" as part of a national effort to reinstate federal usury laws with a 10% cap on credit card interest rates. The event was organized by the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, a coalition of over 50 faith-based and secular organizations (such as churches, synagogues, mosques, unions, and community development corporations), with whom UFE has provided support through our popular economics educational program.

With drums, horns, chants, whoops and hollers, the crowd responded to the call to “Move Our Money” by closing credit card, checking and savings accounts with BoA which refuses to go along with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ usury law capping interest rates at 18%. During the one-hour demonstration, 121 individuals and organizations divested from BoA.

Bank of America, GBIO literature points out, received a $5 billion taxpayer bailout in 2008 despite earning annual profits of $4.1 billion. In 2009, BoA awarded their investment banking employees bonuses totaling $4.4 billion, an average of $400,000 per employee. Yet they refuse to cap their credit card interest rates at 18%.

While GBIO’s Debt to Assets (D2A) financial literacy program teaches folks how mortgages and other loans work, how to avoid predatory lenders, and how to maintain a high credit rating, they have also invited UFE to provide D2A participants with an accessible big picture analysis of the economy. Together we explore how changes in financial regulations, tax laws, and spending decisions have enabled a relatively small group of wealthy investors and financial sector management to accumulate vast wealth, pushing economic inequality to heights not seen since just before the Great Depression.

The relaxing of the rules that permit banks and credit card companies to raise interest rates to what just a few decades ago would have thrown them in jail for usury, is directly addressed by GBIO’s long term campaign: 10 percent is enough! Since Massachusetts has a law that caps interest rates at 18% for banks chartered in the state, the current phase of the campaign is demanding that BoA (based in North Carolina) agree to abide by the Massachusetts cap.

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Three Messages to Build a Progressive Tax Majority

Shortly after the election, one of our supporters asked me what we as a progressive community needed to be doing now. In addition to things like building capacity to influence the broader media and shape the public dialogue, raising more money for organizing efforts across the nation, and pushing for reform to turn back the effects of the Citizen’s United case, I also suggested three core messages that we need to hammer at every opportunity to build a progressive tax majority. They are:

No man / woman is an island. As communities, our prosperity is bound together and dependent upon each other. The prosperity of others in our community impacts our own wellbeing. The recent foreclosure crisis is a classic example as the collateral damage of large-scale foreclosures in communities took down the value of all the homes in the area, including those who had been paying their mortgage, sending them underwater as well. Similarly, better schools doesn't just help the students, it has positive ripple effects across the entire economy. We rise together and we fall together.

The wealth of the most affluent is because of, not in spite of, the tax system and the public investments it makes possible. As long as people believe that the wealthy in our society achieved their status through hard work, smarts, and entrepreneurship alone, they (including those who are not wealthy) will resist any form of progressive taxation as an affront to their hard work and "American values." We must continually point out the ways in which public investments, including roads, courts, public education, parks, and more, make it possible for businesses in our nation to succeed and the wealth that is created for those at the top. Once this is grasped in a deeper way, people will be more open supporting progressive tax policies.

Inequality is bad for everyone. Our communities are stronger when prosperity is broadly shared. Over the past few years, there has been growing evidence validating what progressives have known intuitively all along, that inequality leads to higher crime rates, disintegration of communities, hopelessness and its spin-offs (poor health, obesity, etc), and more. A more broadly shared prosperity can be achieved on the front end through a higher minimum wage, living wage ordinances, caps on CEO pay, steeply progressive taxes that discourage huge paychecks at the very top, etc. On the back end, it can be achieved through progressive taxation, a strong safety net, etc. However we get there though, our communities will be stronger as a result.

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Estate Tax Teleconference - November 2010

Money, Main St & Farms

Estate Tax Teleconference - November 2010

On Tuesday, November 16, 2010, United for a Fair Economy brought together the voices of four American small business owners for a national press teleconference to discuss why the federal estate tax is important for small businesses. Our speakers shared personal stories, explained the facts and dispelled the myths about the estate tax. 

Click here for media coverage.

Our featured speakers:

  • Dave Eiffert, Snoqualmie, WA (statement)
    Co-founder and Co-owner of Snoqualmie Falls Brewery, craft brewery and tap room.
  • Jerry Fiddler, San Francisco, CA (statement)
    Principal of venture capital firm, Zygote Ventures, and Founder of tech company, Wind River Systems.
  • Jean Gordon, Little Rock, AR (statement)
    Co-owner of Frostyaire of Arkansas, agricultural freezing and cold storage company.
  • John Russell, Portland, OR (statement)
    Owner of Russell Development Company, real estate development.

Our speakers are joining us at a critical juncture for the estate tax. The window for legislative action creaks to a close with each passing day before the current law sunsets and reverts back to pre-2001 levels at the start of the new year. After sharing their statements in support of a robust estate tax, the speakers addressed questions from members of both mainstream and alternative media outlets. 

IF YOU ARE A MEMBER OF THE PRESS OR A BLOGGER , and would like to speak with UFE staff or one of our guest speakers about the estate tax, please contact Maz Ali at 617-423-2148 x101 or

For other inquiries regarding the estate tax, please contact UFE’s Senior Organizer on Estate Tax Policy, Lee Farris, at or 617-423-2148 x133.

Thank you for your interest in this event.

ABC News logo

"Dave Eiffert, a small business owner who has worked with United for a Fair Economy, said he hoped for a higher estate tax ceiling and deeper tax cuts for the middle class instead of tax cuts for those making $200,000 and more. Eiffert, co-owner of Snoqualmie Brewery in Snoqualmie, Wash., said he is below the $200,000 income level and is opposed to the notion that tax cuts to the wealthiest will trickle down to create jobs for others.

But Eiffert said it is not too late for the public to speak its mind on the various tax issues before the year comes to a close.'I always hold out hope until it is a done deal,' said Eiffert. 'I urge people to contact their legislators and tell them what they want done. And I hope there will be something better than what has been proposed.'"

Read the full column on

Forbes logo

December 10, 2010

Weak Estate Tax Could Derail Tax Deal

"'It’s obscene and unnecessary, and it benefits no one but a handful of heirs of rich parents,' stated Mike Lapham, director for United for A Fair Economy’s Responsible Wealth project, in a release today calling for stronger tax provisions in the deal, and applauding House Democrats for their commitment to strengthening the plan. 'The estate tax is reason enough to reject the deal,' Lapham said. [...]"

Read the full post by Ashlea Ebeling on

Bloomberg logo

November 29, 2010

Estate Tax as a Hurdle to Resolving Bush-era Tax Cuts

"Forging an agreement [on the estate tax] has proven more complicated than splitting the difference on the numbers because this has been cast as a moral issue, said Lee Farris, senior organizer on estate-tax policy for United for a Fair Economy, a Boston-based group that advocates reinstating the estate tax.

“People are more dug in on their estate-tax positions on both sides than they are on the other positions,” Farris said. [...]"

Read the full column by Ryan Donmoyer on

The Rick Smith Show logo

November 19, 2010

UFE's Lee Farris joined Rick Smith – Pennsylvania talk show host and voice of the working class – to discuss the outright betrayal of struggling Americans by Congressional Republicans, who are holding unemployment benefits for millions of people hostage in their misguided push for permanent extension of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.

Download an MP3 of Rick's interview with Lee Farris. (37.5 MB)

WSJ Business logo

November 18, 2010

Estate tax: Some Small Businesses Glad to Pay

"What do an 84-year-old family-business matriarch in Little Rock, Ark., a beer brewer in Snoqualmie, Wash., a real-estate developer in Portland, Ore., and a Silicon Valley entrepreneur have in common? They’re all calling on Congress to extend the estate tax — even if it takes a bite out of what they leave their heirs. [...]"

Read the full article on

MarketWatch logo

November 16, 2010

Estate Tax? Bring it on

Andrea Coombes, Personal Finance Editor of The Wall Street Journal MarketWatch blog, talks estate tax with Jerry Fiddler in this video interview. According to Fiddler, a wealthy Silicon Valley entrepreneur, because the strength of our educational systems and success of the private sector depend on public services, he considers it a point of pride – not pain – to be able to pay back into the public good.

Watch the interview on

Asheville Citizen-Times logo

November 5, 2010

OP-ED: I'm a Genetic Lottery Winner - Tax Me!

Responsible Wealth member, Judy Pigott, shares why she considers her good fortune a call to action to help protect the common good in the US, starting with preserving and strengthening the federal estate tax.

More >>

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Good Talking Point for Dialogue on Deficits

Dean Baker, intrepid economist at the Center for Economic Policy & Research (CEPR) who scrutinizes mainstream media reporting on the economy, has this gem about the little-discussed impact of health care costs on the deficit.

Dean Baker "If the United States paid the same amount per person for health care as any of the 35 countries with longer life expectancies, we would be looking at huge budget surpluses for the indefinite future."

Baker points readers to CEPR's "Health Care Budget Deficit Calculator," which allows users to compare baseline federal deficit projections by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) against the projected deficit under the CBO's "Low Health Care Cost" calculations.

Deficit projections as percent GDP -- baseline vs. low health care cost

Chart h/t Center for Economic & Policy Research

If you're curious to see how we stack up against the rest of the developed world, CEPR's calculator also lends a glimpse into what our projected deficits would look like if we spent the same amount of money per person on health care as they do in 30 other countries.

The main point here is that, while deficits aren't to be ignored, there are other puzzle pieces that are being brushed aside in the national debate. In this case, we're forgetting that inefficiencies, inequities, and the allure of private profits in health care are doing some major damage to our federal budget. Let's stop forgetting, start learning and sharing the important information that's going to move us in a better direction, and turn our lawmakers' attention to solutions that work for all of us.

Baker's daily posts can be seen in his Beat the Press blog on the CEPR website.

For more good sense on deficit madness, read Robert Kuttner's "What Planet Are Deficit Hawks Living On?"

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