Recycling Opportunity: The Case for a Strong Estate Tax

"On New Year's Day the estate tax, an essential part of the U.S. tax system for nearly 100 years, will disappear because Congress failed to act in December. Congressional leaders now are pledging to act in early 2010 to reinstate the federal estate tax retroactive to Jan. 1. In the meantime, rhetoric over the estate tax will heat up while Congress grapples with what to do now.

This crazy situation is the result of the Bush tax cuts for the super-rich, tax cuts that were supposed to lead to "trickle-down" prosperity for the rest of us. What we have seen instead is stagnation of wages for most Americans, while those at the very top have become extraordinarily rich. In fact, disparities of wealth and income are now at the highest level since the Gilded Age just before the stock market crash of 1929. [...]

That's not what America should be about. [...]

At a recent press event, Bill Gates Sr., Vanguard Group founder John Bogle and Richard Rockefeller called on Congress to pass a robust estate tax. After the group discussed the ways our government helped make their prosperity possible, from protecting copyrights to investing in new technologies and transportation systems, Gates, Sr. said, 'It's clear that those who become wealthy did not do it alone. The people owe something back to society that enables them to create that wealth.'"

Read the full op-ed by Brian Miller in The Sun (San Bernardino, CA).


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