Estate Tax Foolishness

Oh, thank goodness we, the taxpaying US citizenry, including the poor, helpless business-owning women, African Americans and "other minorities," have the courageous William Beach of the Heritage Foundation to speak on our behalf about matters of the economy. In an Illinois Business Journal op-ed debate this month, UFE's Lee Farris represented the pro-estate tax position and Beach spoke from the opposing camp.

Beach lists seven reasons to repeal the so-called "death tax," all of which are painfully unsubstantiated. Unfortunately, I only have a time to blast away at a few of his more startlingly ridiculous points.

  • The estate tax discourages savings and investment. Okay, we're not talking about the low- and middle-income majority of Americans. Those affected by the estate tax are a very tiny and very wealthy sliver (less than a single percent) of the population, to whom savings and investment are not as much the practical concerns they might be for everyone else.
  • The estate tax undermines job creation. Sadly, even in the absence of supporting evidence for this claim, Beach attempts to qualify it with this: "These numbers do not appear in employment statistics because the investments that would have created these jobs are never made." Umm...okay. But, I don't recall George W. Bush's $2.5 trillion tax break bonanza for the wealthiest 5% (of which repeated cuts to the estate tax were a part) doing much for job creation. Read the news much, Mr. Beach?
  • The estate tax contradict the central promise of American life: wealth creation. Economic stability is important, but is wealth creation really "the central promise" of living in this country? All this time, I've completely missed that "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" was just a long-winded way to say, "making money." I feel cheated for having thought the phrase referred to human rights and a deeper-than-monetary sense of enrichment. Silly me.

Is the Heritage Foundation even trying anymore? Or have enough of us just been politically brain-fried enough to buy into even the most pathetic of attempts to garner support for elitist causes?

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