liberal ["liberalis" L - suitable for a freeman, generous; "eleutheros" Gk - free] (adj) generous, open-minded, not subjugated to authoritarian domination; (n) one who believes in liberty, universal suffrage and the free exchange of ideas. elite ["eslire" Fr -- to choose fr.L "eligere" -- choose] (n) the choice part; best of a class; the socially superior part of society.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

sojourners: don't gut the estate tax

Before we talk about cutting the estate tax, let's talk about wasting tax revenues.
Pentagon pressing for new rapid-strike weapon

Trident Fleet Ballistic Missile

General Characteristics, Trident II (D5)
Primary Function: Strategic Nuclear Deterrence.
Contractor: Lockheed Missiles and Space Co., Inc., Sunnyvale, CA.
Date Deployed: 1990.
Unit Cost: $30.9 million.

Dear Senator:

I am writing to express my strong opposition to proposals to repeal the estate tax or “reform” it in ways that would render it less effective. I understand the Senate will take up estate tax repeal and possibly vote on Senator Kyl’s proposal soon.

Repealing the estate tax would slash federal revenues that are needed to meet critical challenges. Full repeal would cost nearly $1 trillion during the first full ten years (2012 to 2021), adding to the nation’s high deficits. Essential services for vulnerable populations are already being cut, including Medicaid, child support, and student loans; the nation also faces fiscal challenges posed by an aging population, rising health care costs, unmet education needs, Social Security insolvency, and homeland security.

Meeting these and any new challenges we face collectively will be much more difficult if the estate tax is repealed or “reformed” in a way that loses nearly as much revenue as repeal.

Indeed, I am concerned that some estate tax “reform” proposals are simply a back-door means by which to repeal the tax. For example, Sen. Kyl's plan to exempt the first $10 million of a married couple’s estate from the tax ($5 million for an individual) and to tax the remainder at 15 percent, the current capital gains rate, is unacceptable. Such a proposal would cost 84 percent as much as repealing the estate tax entirely, and thus is irresponsible just like permanent repeal in both its fiscal impact and its policy direction.

At a time when our country is struggling to curb the growth of deficits and is debating deep cuts in assistance for the most vulnerable populations, we do not need an irresponsible tax cut for the very wealthiest Americans. In fact, neither do the vast majority of the American people as a recent national survey found fewer than one in four (23 percent) favored repealing the estate tax. I urge you to support fiscal discipline and fairness by voting against both permanent repeal of the estate tax and irresponsible “reform” proposals that would be nearly as costly and would weaken our nation’s charities.

Capital gains, estate, and social security are all weighted to place the greater tax burden on labor and those who have to work for a living, while the lighter burden falls on those who earn inflated saolaries, or earn funds on investments or property holdings. These taxes need to be reformed to increase the share that the wealthiest pay for social security, capital gains, and for estate taxes.

This is not the time, nor will it ever be justifiable, for those who most enjoy the benefits of our society and who utilize the greatest bulk of services and resources, to pay a discuount for their quality of life.



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