Restore the Estate Tax!

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"So, a Treasury secretary, a labor union leader, a hedge-fund billionaire, and an heiress walk into a conference call. It's not a Catskills joke. It was the teleconference staged Wednesday morning by United for a Fair Economy's Responsible Wealth Project to discuss the need to reinstate the estate tax. [...]

The purpose of the press conference was to show that abolishing the estate tax massively increases the deficit in order to help a few very wealthy people. Former Treasury secretary and former Citi chairman Robert Rubin opened the call, playing the role of the wise establishmentarian. [...]

Second on the call was the union leader. [...] In [Richard Trumka's] worldview, the top 1 percent has been bogarting all the economic gains for the past few decades. [...]

Trumka was followed by the hedge fund magnate...To Julian Robertson, the founder of hedge fund giant Tiger Management and a major philanthropist, the economic and moral case for an estate tax increase was simple. 'You get out of a credit crisis by getting your house in order, and in America's case bringing your deficit down. This implies tax increases.' The fairest way to do it, he said, is to tax 'the least deserving recipients of wealth, which are the inheritors.'

Finally came the inheritor...Heirs who favor an estate tax are motivated less by liberal guilt than by unease, realism, and historical perspective. They've seen how their families amassed, preserved, and passed down wealth in spite of income and estate taxes that were far higher than they are today. 'My life of great comfort was made possible in spite of the estate tax," said Abigail Disney, the grandniece of Walt Disney, a filmmaker and philanthropist. [...]"

Read the full column by Daniel Gross on Slate.com


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