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The Wealth Gap and the Estate Tax

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From the New York Times comes yet more evidence of the growing concentration of wealth in America, this time from an analysis of inheritances.

A lot of money is being inherited these days – $200 billion a year, in fact, more than three times the amount that was passed down 30 years ago even after adjusting for inflation.

But who’s getting it? In 2004, the median inheritance was $29,000 – down $10,000 from 30 years ago when adjusted for inflation. So most people are seeing less money, not more. The answer is that most of the money goes to the very rich: 7 percent of the estates account for half of it.

There are several reasons for shrinking inheritances, starting with basic demographic changes: parents are living longer and spending more of their money themselves, and most people do a lousy job of saving for retirement at a time when fewer and fewer people can rely on pensions and other traditional sources of retirement income. So what money they do save gets spent.

But simple demographics cannot explain the increasing concentration of wealth reflected in the statistic that 7 percent of estates account for half of the money being passed down.

The story notes that wealthy heirs are seeing more and more money:

“We are seeing bigger-sized estates,” said Myra Salzer, president of the Wealth Conservancy in Boulder, Colo., which helps heirs manage their inherited wealth.

“Wealth is just exploding,” said Daniel FitzPatrick, chief executive of Citigroup Trust, whose clients typically have hundreds of millions of dollars.

Add this to all the other evidence of wealth concentration in America, and other measures of disparity such as CEO pay, which now averages 500 times the wages of average workers. Fifteen years ago the ratio was 140 to 1; 40 years ago it was 40 to 1.

I don’t believe in “punishing the rich” simply for being rich. I’d like to be rich someday, after all. But I do think that it’s fair to tax someone’s second $300,000 at a higher rate than everyone’s first $300,000. And I think we all have an interest in the ill effects of excessive wealth concentration.

Tie up too much wealth in the hands of the few, and you damage the economy, limiting opportunity and driving social unrest. For extreme examples, look at France during the run up to the French Revolution, or Victorian and Edwardian England, or parts of South America today, where the wealthy live in fortresses, drive armored cars, and employ bodyguards, while the poor scavenge for food in city dumps. This is how revolutions are born.

Which brings us to the estate tax – or, as Republicans like to spin it, the “death tax.” Along with the Bush tax cuts that provided disproportionate relief to the wealthy, the gradual repeal of the estate tax plays a large part in increasing the concentration of wealth.

Republicans cast it as simple fairness: why should someone’s money be taxed twice? It’s a fair argument, but it ignores several things:

1. A lot of money is taxed twice, through sales taxes, for example. Or consider the gift tax. Give someone more than $10,000 a year, and it’s subject to tax. Why, then, does it make sense to exempt a gift from taxation simply because the giver has died?

2. The estate tax brings in about $70 billion a year. In a time of war and budget deficits, is it really good policy to blow another gigantic hole in the budget for a law that only benefits the very, very rich?

3. What is the social benefit of allowing heirs to receive millions of unearned dollars tax-free?

4. The government taxes nearly every transfer of money. What is the rationale for refusing to tax this transfer of money? What separates it from all the other transfers of money that we do tax?

It makes no sense to worsen our budget situation in order to provide a tax benefit to the least needy – especially when doing so actively harms society and the economy. I’ll give Bush the benefit of the doubt and call it a case of following a principle out the window instead of simply pandering to wealthy supporters. But it’s a move we simply cannot afford – in any sense of the word.

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About Sean Aqui

  • Nancy

    The best points the very wealthy (like Bush, Congress, & co.) might like to consider: that too few too wealthy = class warfare = social unrest = revolution & downfall of the extremely wealthy.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    The reason for getting rid of the estate tax is very, very simple. That money, more than any other source of wealth in the US goes directly into investment. That investment bolsters the economy more directly than any other form of spending. Consumer spending is great, but it doesn’t benefit the spender nearly as much as investment does, because investing brings returns for the investor, provides capital for the company, and that filters down to the employees. If your goal is a strong economy getting rid of estate and capital gains taxes will do more to stimulate the economy than any other kind of tax cuts.

    Dave

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Ah, and I forgot to cover the wealth gap. The fact that the rich are getting richer does NOT mean that the poor are getting poorer. Wealth is not a zero-sum system where one group can only gain at the expense of another. The fact is that both the poor and the wealthy are gaining in wealth, but because the rich have more to start with they advance more dramatically. But the key thing is that everyone is better off.

    Dave

  • gonzo marx

    as to comment #2 …bullshit

    can we say Paris Hilton?

    spare me the canned rhetoric, these whelps didn’t earn shit

    say we cap it at $5million…every dime after that gets taxed at a nice high rate

    can you honestly state that these trust fund babies have done any good or have any need of more than that much?

    just a Thought

    Excelsior!

  • http://midtopia.blogspot.com Sean Aqui

    Perhaps. But there are plenty of historic examples where excessive concentration of wealth did not lead to any of that: it led to a caste system.

    In a global economy, is there any guarantee that that wealth will be invested domestically? Not when you can chase higher returns abroad. So the interests of the wealthy and the interests of society do not necessarily align.

    But mostly, if we’re going to blow a hole in the budget in pursuit of tax reform, then we should fix AMT before we fix the estate tax.

    And I’d like to hear an answer to my basic question: what makes the estate tax different from all other wealth transfers that are taxed?

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Gonzo, I guarantee you that Paris Hilton has a staff of employees who depend on her and that she has an investment advisor who handles her money and makes sure it’s spent well. She’s a walking wealth generator for everyone around her and who she comes into contact with. We should give her MORE money and she’d save the economy single handedly.

    Sean, if the global economy benefits the US economy also benefits, and despite the fact that investment IS a global market, most US citizens invest 80% of their wealth in companies operating primarily in the US.

    And I thought they WERE fixing the AMT. I agree on that one. It hits middle-class taxpayers way too hard.

    As for what makes the estate tax different, it’s just more likely to be invested money than day to day income is. That’s the main difference.

    Dave

  • gonzo marx

    another case of “trickle down” bullshit…

    in other words, the wealthy piss on the rest of us and tell us it’s a good thing

    i ain’t buying it

    Paris may be generating a lot of cash for her dog’s manicurist, or clothes designers…but not much else…and she didn’t earn a dime of it

    think about it a second…the $100,000 she pays for her personal manicurist could translate into 4 full scholarships for folks who can’t afford it to go to college and generate real capital earnings

    a far more worthy use, and just one silly example

    but time has shown that those who love their “supply side economics” are either delusional, or the recipients of the spoils of said system

    they are the same ones who conveniently forget the Equation must Balance “supply and demand”

    they are the same ones that like ilegal immigrants working off the books so they can get cheap labor

    they are the same ones that like offshoring american jobs (including things like essential parts for fighter jets made in China) rather than pay a decent wage to American workers

    on and on

    but you get the Idea

    “Know your Enemy”

    Excelsior!

  • http://midtopia.blogspot.com Sean Aqui

    Sean, if the global economy benefits the US economy also benefits, and despite the fact that investment IS a global market, most US citizens invest 80% of their wealth in companies operating primarily in the US.

    It’d be interesting to run the numbers and see what returns the most money to the U.S. economy: taxing an inheritance dollar, investing that dollar in the U.S., or investing that dollar abroad.

    I’d be willing to believe that the answer is 2,1,3, with 2 and 1 being pretty close and 3 a distant third. Because only a portion of the growth generated by the foreign-invested dollar redounds to the U.S., and we’d have to balance that against the damage done by increased competition from foreign businesses, and from factories built there instead of here.

    And I thought they WERE fixing the AMT. I agree on that one. It hits middle-class taxpayers way too hard.

    They’re dragging their feet, despite it being the #1 issue for most taxpayer groups. Why? Because the cost would be enormous. Funny how the estate tax, which isn’t #1 on the list because it affects so few people, got fixed first despite its also-significant cost.

    As for what makes the estate tax different, it’s just more likely to be invested money than day to day income is. That’s the main difference.

    Fair enough. That just doesn’t strike me as a significant enough difference to justify making it entirely tax-free, especially because the budget shortfall will have to be made up by others. A substantial shift of the tax burden from the wealthy to the less wealthy is rarely a good idea. Excessively taxing the rich is a bad idea, too, but that’s not really what we’re talking about here.

  • gonzo marx

    you want to fix the Budget?

    simplicity itself…sales tax on stock trades

    now watch the elitist pigs panties get all twisted into a wad…

    my Question is why not?..the stock market is nothing more than legalized gambling…and we DO tax every other form of gambling…so why not this?

    discuss…

    Excelsior!

  • http://midtopia.blogspot.com Sean Aqui

    If the tax weren’t too high, I wouldn’t have a problem with that.

    But is there any particular reason we should want to raise the transaction costs of trading? That’s just one more way to keep the stock market a rich person’s playground, and reduce investment returns all around.

    The emergence of 401(k)s and low-fee trading sites lie e-trade have helped democratize the markets; you no longer need $1 million to play. Isn’t that a good thing?

  • RedTard

    I completely agree with raising the estate tax. Taking taxes from people when they are dead is certainly the most humane way to do it. There is a lot of angry rhetoric among those who stand to benefit from a large inheritance, but I haven’t seen anything that even approximates a logical argument for random genetic luck gaining a person access to billions.

    We once had a system where wealth and power was passed by birthright. I think the people rose up and cut off the heads of the Paris Hilton’s at that time. I hope we are not driven to that extreme again.

  • http://www.tresbleu.blogspot.com Sister Ray

    So people shouldn’t be allowed to pass their money on to their children?

    Paris Hilton isn’t hurting anyone by having all that money. Her parents or grandparents gave it to her fair and square.

  • RedTard

    “So people shouldn’t be allowed to pass their money on to their children?”

    No, systems based on birthright have been seen as unfair for centuries. That same false logic is exactly what Kings and royalty were saying years ago and it’s just as wrong now as it was then.

  • RedTard

    Also, cutting Paris’s fortune down to $5 million is not exactly gonna put her out on the street. Her parents’ money will still ensure that she never has to perform any lowly serf labor at any time during her life.

  • http://jonsobel.com Jon Sobel

    Tax the churches. Won’t somebody please tax the churches?

  • Dave Nalle

    Yes indeed, Gonzo. Let’s tax stock trades – taxing income a second and possibly a THIRD time. Let’s shut down the economy, get ourselves cardboard boxes and curl up in a fetal position. Good lord that’s a dumb idea.

    Resentment and envy are NOT a good basis for a sound economic policy.

    I’m with Jon Sobel. Let’s start by taxing the damned churches.

    Dave

  • http://www.tresbleu.blogspot.com Sister Ray

    There’s a difference between ruling a country by birthright and leaving money to your heirs. I think people, rich or poor, should be able to leave their estate as they choose.

    If the Hilton family had run some mom-and-pop small business and passed on the proceedings to their heirs, no one would begrudge them. The fact that they made more money than average shouldn’t make it right to take it from them.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Love ya Gonzo, but beyond the fact that your resentment-based prescriptions for wealth confiscation would be highly detrimental to society in general (as Brother Nalle has explained very succintly), they are also highly presumptuous on your part. By what right do you presume to steal other people’s money like this?

    Thieving is bad enough when poor folks do a little to get by, but it’s beyond excusable and into plain, flat-out wickedness to push it as social policy just to satisfy your hatred of rich folk.

  • gonzo marx

    lol..both of you mistake my Concept for “hatred”

    i would have to give a flying fornication bisecting a rotating pastry about any of them to generate a powerful emotion like hate

    rather what i am doing is throwing out some ideas on how to enable the System to work a bit better and enable a more even playing field for Americans….ALL Americans

    if you think a cap of 5 mill to each heir is too small, well then there isn’t much to discuss…it woudl protect small family owned businesses while taxing (note i did not mention at what rate) large quantities of wealth to be used , if for no other purpose, than to pay off the Deficit

    same with stack trades….it IS legalized gambling, we are all for any other kind of “sin tax”…the rate can be negotiated, and by doing so..the capital gains tax can be removed from trading and replaced by this flat and fair system….again, the proceeds used solely to pay down the National Debt

    you have a better Idea?

    Excelsior!

  • Maurice

    gonzo – you are fun.

    The Stock Market could be described as gambling and is certainly emotion based but it serves another purpose. It is real money used for capital. When one company buys another (with stock) there is real value there and helps both companies. The economy would be hurt by such a tax.

    As far as wealth. I think it is difficult for anyone to maintain wealth for very long. The Hilton example is perfect. What is Paris doing to grow the empire? She is spending more of her wealth not growing it. The Hilton hotels may continue to grow but it will have nothing to do with Paris’s efforts.

    Through adversity we grow strong. The wealthy kids have no adversity so they fade away.

  • http://insiderealestatejournal.blogspot.com Mr. Real Estate

    The estate tax hurts middle class inheritors more than anyone else. The rich know the methods to protect their wealth (i.e., trusts, etc.), while most poor and middle class folks do not.

    Quite frankly, I love the rich. If it were not for their business, I would not be middle class, myself.

    Dave is right. The returns from the invested money do nurture the middle class and the poor, who in some way, shape or form, benefit from it.

    May god Bless the wealthy and may their returns grow greatly, as the larger their wealth becomes, so do the number of benefits grow to everyone else. Employment, for example, is at an all time high at the same time wealth has grown at all time high levels, and business is also booming at high levels. This is not a coincidence. It is the trickle down effect of wealth.

    -John Mudd
    “Mr. Real Estate”

  • http://jpsgoddamnblog.blogspot.com JP

    The estate tax affects the richest 1%. Repealing it will further put the tax burden on the working class and wage earners. No need to repeal it.

  • Assmuncher says “what?”

    Mr. Real Estate, how brainwashed are you? You might not be so thankful when your job is outsourced so the rich man can get richer. Then you will get to see all these great jobs that have been created.

    If you are going to tax me, please do it after i’m dead. I won’t need it quite as much. The wealthy should be the first ones to give back to a country that gave them the opportunity to become wealthy.

  • Assmuncher says “What?”

    Trickle down effect definition:

    When a rich man blows his wad on your forehead, it trickles down into your eyes and blinds you so he fuck over the middle class.

  • Maurice

    Once again I wish for a “Commenter Off” button.

  • Genie of BC

    I can grant your wish, but first you must rub my bal.. er lamp.

  • http://www.markiscranky.org Mark Saleski

    …No need to repeal it.

    ok, now here comes the squishy liberal to defend the idea of getting rid of the estate tax.

    i’m not going to use any economic arguments at all because, frankly, we can play yes/no, he said/she said, i agree/fuck you you dummy….until we’re all blue in the face (or mr. nalle outlasts everybody, whichever comes first. ;-) )

    it’s this: this money, however it was earned (and i don’t believe we get to plaster it with value judgements since we just cannot know how it was earned and further, unless there were illegalities involved, it’s nobody’s business) it seems to me that a transfer to near kin just should not be taxed. i’ve always felt that this was wrong and i don’t give a shit if it was a thousand dollars or several billion.

  • Nancy

    Unless Mr. Real Estate is one of those who sells only to the ultra-luxe market, he will find himself out of a job one of these days thanks to this trend anyway, as “ordinary” people will increasingly be unable to afford houses (they are NOT ‘homes’, a despicable marketing misspeak ploy) that sell for wildly inflated prices far beyond their actual value & worth. In the DC area, in 2 years real estate prices have jacked up over 100%. A house that would have sold for $200K in 2004 is now almost half a million. Little crackerbox pieces of crap that require so much fixing up they may as well be leveled & rebuilt, which were going for $60K 3 years ago, are currently being offered for over $200K. Of course, by now the market has slowed a bit, so no one’s biting at this particular bad bargain, and indications are, as decent-paying jobs recede overseas thanks to the plutocracy, those they depend on to pay the taxes to support spendthrift government, or to buy the garbage their corporations produce, are going to be increasingly unable to do so, because of the plutocracy’s policies of destroying the pitiful remains of Labor & the working class, reducing them to virtual serfdom. Except they can’t have it both ways. Serfs don’t have the disposable income to buy trash. Neither do illegals who keep the native-born serfs in place thru excess competition & artificially low wages w/no benefits. Fortunately for the plutocracy, the vast majority of Americans are both stupid & bovine, inured since birth to receiving information only thru 15-second soundbites, swallowing whole whatever marketing is foisted on them by unscrupulous advertisers, & totally incapable of either thinking critically or thinking for themselves. Otherwise I suspect the situation would be that the very wealthy (not only the trust fund parasites, but the legal/politicals) would be in Big Trouble, since anyone with half a brain cell would be inclined to make 1917 Russia look like a picnic.

  • sal m

    stop obsessing about what the rich do and how much they make…for as much as the class warfare/redistribution of wealth crowd likes to crow about how much the rich make/pass on, the death tax hurts the people who need it most; the middle class.

    stop trying to hurt the rich. taking money from them doesn’t help anyone out, it just gives more money to the government to spend. from what i’ve seen i trust “the rich” when it comes to spending/investing way more than i trust the government.

    and the new york times is hardly an objective source for info with regards to most issues…

    furthermore, just because some money is already taxed twice doesn’t mean that this mistake should be compounded and tax other money this way as well…

  • Nancy

    I don’t think anyone who’s poor can help thinking more than is good for their peace of mind about the difference between the lifestyles of the rich & their own increasingly bleak situations; especially when the media make such a big deal about it, too, always trumpeting shows about how this one lives, or shoving the excesses of that one (like Paris Hilton) down everyone’s throat. Double dare ya to stand in a checkout line at the store & NOT find wall-to-wall headlines blaring about such overprivileged maggots as TomKat, P.H., or other ultra-wealthy, ultra-braindead celebs. It’s kind of unavoidable.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Gonzo, we mistake it for hatred and resentment, because rather than looking for ways to help those in need, all you come up with is ways to hurt those who are successful.

    If you want solutions, why not figure out a way to leave the capital class alone so the economy stays strong and redirect more of that economic growth and strength towards the bottom 40% of the income spectrum? That would be a positive objective.

    Artificially capping inheritance is purely punitive in nature, and destroying wealth and putting it in the hands of the government does no good for anyone. The one group absolutely less deserving of wealth than the old rich are the bloated bureaucrats in DC.

    Dave

  • Nancy

    Even I don’t endorse THAT! The one bright spot I ever saw in the Russian Revolution was they seemed to have followed the dictum about “first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers….”

  • Maurice

    Great comment #31

    Is there a way to help the bottom 40%?

    The writers of “The Bell Curve” believe the disparity between rich and poor will grow as we become less of a manufacturing economy. They forsee a day when the major US export is technology.

    If that is true the rich will be those that are good at math and the poor will be those that can’t understand how to reboot their computer.

  • RedTard

    “all you come up with is ways to hurt those who are successful.”

    Your consider being dead success? This isn’t about taking money from anybody who in any way shape or form earned it.

    Please tell us in your own words how taking money from a dead person is worse than taking money from a live person. And that crap about investment is BS, every bit of money is either spent or invested all the time these days boosting the economy.

    The inherited ‘capital class’ do nothing for the economy but hand over their money to a manager and screw workers with 401K’s on inside deals. Why not cut out the middle man, provide tax relief to the actual workers, plus you might just get a couple of extra warm bodies looking to do productive things rather than spending daddy’s (or mommy’s) money.

    I’m dissappointed, I thought more people in the right wing had actual core values rather than just blind greed.

  • gonzo marx

    comment #31 sez…
    *If you want solutions, why not figure out a way to leave the capital class alone so the economy stays strong and redirect more of that economic growth and strength towards the bottom 40% of the income spectrum?*

    and here’s the rub…objective observation as well as historical and sociological trends have shown that allowing the oligarchy the unfettered control and “freedom” that you advocate has ALWAYS led to the screwing over of the vast majority of the population

    those who enjoy history might want to check as recently as the 1920’s-1940 for the most recent example , and where the GOP types want to return to

    what i tend to do is spot this kind of bullshit, and point it out…with an attempt to remind folks that the current crop are referred to as “supply siders”, thus implying the neglect of the “demand” portion of the economic formulae

    example: when Henry Ford was asked why he paid his workers so well , he responded “if I don’t, who would buy my cars?”

    nuff said?

    Excelsior!

  • RedTard

    “The writers of ‘The Bell Curve’ believe the disparity between rich and poor will grow as we become less of a manufacturing economy.”

    What does that have to do with an estate tax? I’m not advocating helping any one group, I’m suggesting lowering taxes on live people and increasing them on dead ones who can’t use the money anyway. If the rich people are really that smart they’ll end up right back at the top anyway and I would support it.

  • http://midtopia.blogspot.com Sean Aqui

    To help keep things on track:

    Only the rich are affected by the estate tax.

    Paris Hilton is irrelevant.

    The tax does not “cap” estates.

    I don’t see why giving money to kin should be totally privileged.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    I guess I should be happy I don’t have any money…that way, my family and I will never be affected by this stupid shit. I think the problem with this country is there are far to many Robinhoods…steal from the rich and give to the poor.

    But I’ll also say that if you taxed the hell out of a guy like Bill Gates, he’d still be to damn rich!

    That must be a good reason to tax him then…

    I mean, why not, they tax those of us that can’t afford it, might as well really tax the shit out of the rich fuckers that really can afford it!

    I say to hell with it. Let’s just wipe out inherited wealth all together! You don’t get to inherit shit. You have to earn it all yourself..silver spoon assholes that you are.

  • RedTard

    Why are your panties in a wad? I don’t see anyone advocating taxing the very alive and very productive Bill Gates. I suppose that little fact escaped your grasp.

    I will be punished if there is an estate tax when my parents die. With my luck they’ll institute the new high tax I advocate right before my parents die and I’ll get all of the taxes and none of the benefit beforehand. It’s not about what is ‘best’ for me it’s about creating a fair system.

  • OMG

    RedTard, I no longer wish you death. You indeed DO have a soul. I hope this spark of common sense grows into a fire and spreads throughout your republican body. May that flame spread to every other right wing douchebag. Long live the TARD!!

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    no…it’s bout stealing from the rich to give to the poor.

  • gonzo marx

    ummm Andy..ya can’t technically steal from the dead…

    and taxation mayt be considered “stealing” by some folks …but it does serve a purpose on many levels, from financing our military to paying Air Mashalls and more…

    so the Question here is how to raise the revenue required for our government to do what we tell it to do in a most fair manner

    the point was brought up earlier, and is absolutely correct…that the currnt “estate tax” effects only the top 1% i the Nation….all this other guff is pure bullshit to distract folks from the actual facts ( go and scope the GAO for the figures if you like)

    soOOOOoOOoooo…spare me the robin hood bullshyte and let’s talk about the actual problem….namely a dcent part of the tax law, that ONLY effects those that can afford it most and only causes a bit of harm to trust fund kids who did nothing to earn the wealth in the first place

    Excelsior!

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    gonzo – yu know as well as I do that no matter what the gov says they’re gonna do with the money they do whatever the hell they want…look at lotteries for a prime example. If all that money went to education like they said it was gonna…holy mackeral, we’d have some damn fine schools in this country.

    Like I said in my earlier comment, this will never affect me. I seriously doubt I’m gonna win the lottery, I think you have to play it to win it, so I’ll never be in taht one percent.

    Doesn’t the top one percent already get taxed to high heaven? Don’t they pay something like 95% of the taxes in this country already? And just because they can afford it is a reason to take it from them? Should we check pay stubs at the gas pump and everywhere else we’re taxed from now on?

    I understand the TFB’s did nothing to earn it in most cases…and more than likely, I probably wouldn’t like most of them if I happened to meet them, doubtful, as we don’t hang out in the same circles, but is that really a reason to take it from them?

    Bottom line…aren’t we all taxed enough as it is?

  • Maurice

    RedTard

    good criticism on my post. I was responding to Dave #31 specifically about helping the bottom 40%.

    My only point is that the rich are a transient group. Sorry to stray off topic.

  • Nancy

    Andy, you must have joined Nalle on drugs; where did you get THOSE figures from?! Actually, the rich pay almost 0 of the total taxes in this country. Proportionately, they pay less than one of their maids. Kind of like the Queen of England donating 1000L to charity, & everyone coos how generous she is, when proportionally, a poor working stiff making (the US equivilent of) $30K per year would only have to give a dollar to be just as charitable! Bill Gates may actually pay $120K – or $12 million – in taxes, but proportionally, he’s paying far less than does someone who makes less than 1/10 of 1% of his income; furthermore, he has so much left over, it doesn’t affect his standard of living at all, unlike the poor person. A further example: if Working Joe goes out to dinner & pays $100 for himself & wife, that a major blowout. If Bill Frist goes out & actually is made to pay for the same dinner without some toadie giving it to him free or at a deep discount, it’s just pocket change to him. Joe will have to live on beans for some time to make up for it; I doubt very very much Bill Frist will have to curtail himself anywhere on anything.

  • Arch Conservative

    Gonzo’s plan to save America. Entitlements and personal income redistribution.

    They already have a place like that Gonzo. it’s called Europe. Why don’t you buy a one way ticket there.

  • gonzo marx

    actually Andy…the top 10% pay a bit over 60% of the taxes in the nation….which is strange because they own over 90% of the wealth

    something to ponder…

    Excelsior!

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    Nancy – I’m not sure what kind of drugs Dave takes…we’ll have to ask him. Personally, I’m not anything this early in the day…if you read my comment the thing about the top 1 % was a question…

    Look, I’m one of those guys that you’re talking about…that $100 dinner for me and the woman only happens about every other payday…

    Maybe it’s just because I’m more of a flat tax kinda person. I don’t really believe that the more you make the bigger persentage you should have to give up.

  • http://jpsgoddamnblog.blogspot.com JP

    Andy and Mark, this tax is not “theft.” Repealing it is basically thieving from taxpayers–another unnecessary push toward financial insolvency. At a time when our national debt has reached staggering proportions, I’m shocked by the audacity of people who argue that DESPITE our current taxes being extremely low already, we should cut more.

    We just had to raise the debt ceiling, people! Pure financial mismanagement: “In the context of prolonged large budget deficits, abolishing a tax that will generate almost $1 trillion in revenue from 2012-2021 is fiscally irresponsible, according to Senator George Voinovich (R-OH) and other moderates in both parties.”

    And Mark, there’s an exemption if you give a certain % to charities. The rich DO give to charities, right? “Trickle down”? If they’re so benevolent, there’s no problem. I’m tired of looking for more ways to reward the wealthy while we’re cutting services to the average American. It’s unethical.

  • Nancy

    Every other payday? You ARE privileged. I know only one couple that has had a $100 dinner in the past YEAR. The rest of them can’t afford even that, since there are more urgent things to do with that $100. A big night out for most of them is an evening at Pizza Hut or China Garden. Even an evening out at the movies is too steep, anymore, what with tickets running $10 per, and the prohibitive cost of popcorn. You gotta set your sights ‘way down, Andy. You’re still living a lot higher than most of the rank & file here in the US. You think you’re the norm, but you’re not, if you can eat out like that.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    JP – I guess your definition of low taxes and mine are a bit different. I don’t think my taxes are extremely low like you say they are.

    They tax my gas, they tax my liquor, they tax my cigarettes, they tax my house, they tax my paycheck, they tax my mil retirement check, they tax my car EVERY year even though I only bought it once. They tax my green fees, they tax my fast food. They tax EVERYTHING! and like I said before, this will more than likely neve affect me, but damn…if I want to give up ALL my money, I’ll move to Canada!

    And what do I get for it? Less discretionary spending money!

  • Poor White Trash

    $100 dinners? No big deal. I made twice that last week.

  • http://jpsgoddamnblog.blogspot.com JP

    Andy, I’m talking Federal taxes. Cutting them makes states tax more, leading to some of the taxes you mention.

    As for current levels, Fox News cites “historically low tax rates on long-term gains and dividends.” How about Townhall: “Precisely because Reagan’s reforms brought tax rates down so much in the 1980s, U.S. tax rates remain historically low.”

    Investors are being advised to put money into 401(k) programs because “”We’re in a time of historically low tax rates that are highly unlikely to be sustained.”

    So how do you define it?

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    JP – I can’t speak for what the MSM says about taxes. I only know what I pay every year. My income goes up a lot slower than my tax rate. That’s what I base my comments on…what I pay in taxes every year.

  • http://jpsgoddamnblog.blogspot.com JP

    Andy, Your argument is the kind that misleads people in to believing taxes are excessively high, and that tax cuts are needed. Republicans make that argument despite that we have “historically low tax rates.” Why is that? Most of the “fat” is already gone, courtesy of the 1980s.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jeruslem

    Looking at America’s caste and class system from a distance, and from a different country that is facing similar problems of wealth distribution, but with far higher taxes, I’ll say this.

    You Americans are the lowest taxed people in the “developed” world. And you get the fewest benefits as a result. Most of them seem to me to be in the tax system that allows home ownership to cut tazes. I hate to tell you all this, but you do not need to cut taxes at all in your country, but raise them. Your country is going broke.

    You are about to face a crisis that will bankrupt the social security system as 2015 approaches and the population cohort known as the baby boomers start to drain every spare dollar in the federal budget.

    Now I know that some of you will snort “bullshit!” and throw reams of numbers at me in an effort to prove me wrong…

    But the rest of you will know better. A psychiatrist sucking glycerine will sound more convincing – and be just as wrong.

    Have fun, guys!

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    and here’s the rub…objective observation as well as historical and sociological trends have shown that allowing the oligarchy the unfettered control and “freedom” that you advocate has ALWAYS led to the screwing over of the vast majority of the population

    Which may be true in a static society, but not in one with the massive upward mobility you have in the US today. In a 10 year period 35% of those in the 4th quintile will move into the 5th quintile and 47% of those in the middle quintile will move into the 4th or 5th quintile. That means that anything you do to punish the rich also punishes a huge proportion of the middle class who will become part of the rich within a decade.

    what i tend to do is spot this kind of bullshit, and point it out…with an attempt to remind folks that the current crop are referred to as “supply siders”, thus implying the neglect of the “demand” portion of the economic formulae

    Suppy-side is so 80s. Demand is even more important. And in this case the people demand an opportunity to be rewarded for the hard work they put in to raise themselves up the income ladder.

    Dave

  • troll

    shoot…before we know it there won’t be any more poor folk at all – !

    what a great economy

    troll

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Nah, Troll. That’s why we have illegal immigrants – a constant supply of new poor folks.

    Otherwise your argument holds pretty well – in the course of a decade 85% of the bottom economic quintile will move up one or more quintiles. You should check out my new article on the subject.

    Dave

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    so…because the rest of the world pays higher taxes than we do, we should all pay higher taxes? Now you’re starting to sound like the supreme court!

    I vote for less benefits…but I’m a prick like that.

    Maybe it’s a historical low time for taxes because it was a stupidly high time before?

    I’ve never been able to figure out how the gov taking away more of my money was good for me…but I don’t believe in helmet or seatbelt laws or no smoking laws…think about it…if we did away with half the bullshit laws there’d be plenty of money left over. How much money is wasted on the war on pot? Uh huh…

    How about we set up a system where if you really think you’re not paying enough taxes you can send in more? I do my part, I give the gov an interest free loan every year. Usually about a grand.

    Why does the gov need more of my money? So they can build bridges to nowhere?

    Just a thought.

  • troll

    bombs cost money…which in turn makes the world go round

    troll

  • Reality Check

    People here seem to be ignoring that historically, reduction in tax rates has resulted in an increase in tax revenues. That is specifically because the more discretionary money people have, the more they spend, and in more transactions, which are taxed, and thus more tax revenue rolls in. Look at tax revenues from 1981 to 1989, when tax rates were reduced. In eight years, tax revenue almost doubled.

    Also, estate tax does not just affect the rich. Maybe you should all google around for the horror stories of farm families whose land was auctioned off by the government after the family patriarch/matriarch died and hadn’t properly established trusts to avoid the enormous estate tax. Those people are forced off the farm they grew up on. The land most often gets sold to… you got it, wealthy people.

    So maybe a reconsideration of your class warfare agenda is in order. I don’t make much money. Thus, I don’t pay much in taxes. I begrudge no person their family’s wealth. Just like I want to be able to pass on whatever I manage to accumulate (already taxed many times over) to my children, they should be able to do the same. As for “the poor people who can’t afford to go out to eat”, cry me a freaking river. 50 years ago, very few people went out to eat on a regular basis. I rarely go out to eat, and even when I do, I can’t really afford it. But I save whatever I can, eventually will invest it, and hopefully one day will join the upper class and be paying plenty of taxes during my lifetime. I shouldn’t need to worry about my stuff being confiscated when I die.

  • Bennett

    If a massively rich couple can’t, despite access to the best nannys, tutors, schools, and influence, raise a child that can earn a fantastic income either in the family business or with some law firm, then that couple (and child) don’t deserve to remain in the upper echelon of financially cush.

    I so not surprised to see Dave ‘fortunate son’ Nalle defending the elimination of the estate tax.

    After all, once a generation or two has passed, it doesn’t matter where the family wealth originated. Stock scams aka Joseph Kennedy, or influence peddling from the position of U.S. Ambassador, it’s all the same to a trust fund baby. An estate tax would seem like coitus interuptus to a man of his ilk.

    Shocked as I am, I totally agree with Redtard, tax dead people.

    If your estate is over 10 million, and your (2) kids can’t live on what’s left after taxes, you totally suck(ed) as a parent, and should pass the extra bucks on to help pay down the deficit that you helped create.

    That’s three cents, at least.

  • deathventure

    Not only celebs, what about these athletes that make an excess of 25 mill a year for running up and down a track/field. Given the average career is 10 years or so? Possibly more, sometimes less, either way that’s a hell of alot of money. Much of it gets sent to charities so that their money DOESN’T get taxed. Now, good and all that the charities are getting money, but what about the other oh say 100 mill still in the bank account. Most of it is gonna sit there and accrue interest. Not all of it is going to stocks/money market. But if some of it does, it will add to what’s in the bank. Concentration rises, it gets passed on to the next kid. What’s he gonna do? Either spend it all and live out on the street or do the same thing his father did. Save it and invest. Okay, now, as that keeps gaining, yes it’s taxed while it’s in the bank, but the interest alone from the investments are bloating the account. Where does all the money go? Nowhere. It sits there waiting to get spent or reinvested to make more money. Meanwhile people like me are struggling to put a few bucks in the bank in order to make the .05% interest per month. Along with that, day to day life also takes it’s own toll so I essentially have no savings. Upon that, school loans and fleeting hopes of buying a house are dashed as investment fools are buying out housing and selling it for 8 times the amount it’s worth. Where’s that leave me? spending all my money on my rent, food, barely enough for clothing. Something’s wrong here. What’s happening? I was lucky enough to find a company that was able to hire me and I have basic health care benifits. No reitirement plans, no nothing to ensure if something happens that I’ll be okay. How many people are living the life I live? Millions. How many rich people care about what happens to us? Very very few. How has your local rich man helped you lately? ohhh, he bought stock in your company, oh? what’s that? You job’s being outsourced? That’s too bad…. Get the bigger picture. The fat need to be defatted.

  • simplyamazed

    All I can say is “wow.” I rarely ever comment on internet articles, but I was just so impressed by this one that I felt compelled to make a statement. The article was interesting and presents some thought-provoking questions. The economic analysis I’ve read in the comments, however, is nothing less than mind-numbing. I hate to admit it, but I am certainly dumber for reading some of the comments posted here.

    Dave, Dave, Dave. Investment is not the only thing that drives the economy. I admit it plays no small role, but your analysis is completely one-sided. Of course, if you are rich, why be objective? And if you aren’t, why would you write biased, general statements as though they were facts? I’m not claiming to be an economist, but wouldn’t you also want to consider the benefits, social as well as economic, of increases in goverment spending and taxes on the wealthy? How do these weigh in with the loss of investment? How would it effect the velocity of money (how many times each dollar is spent in a year)? Without these considerations, which are only a small fraction of the many facets that need to be scrutinized in such a situation, your analysis amounts to less than nothing. It’s harmful rather than helpful. Just something to consider before you try to convince more people to give all their money to Paris Hilton.

  • http://midtopia.blogspot.com Sean Aqui

    RE: #62.

    For tax data, try this link.

    In constant dollars, federal tax receipts went from $1.08 trillion in 1981 to $1.3 trillion in 1989. Hardly a doubling.

    At the same time, the federal deficit exploded. Deficit spending will always goose the economy, and thus tax receipts. That doesn’t make debt-fueled stimulus a great idea.

    Under Clinton, who raised taxes, receipts went from $1.3 trillion in 1993 (note the stagnant receipts from 1989 to 1993) to $2.03 trillion in 2000. That’s far closer to a doubling. And he ran a surplus in the last three years.

    Cutting taxes stimulates the economy. Deficit spending stimulates the economy. A growing population stimulates the economy. Productivity gains stimulate the economy. Giving either Reagan or Clinton or tax cuts sole credit for economic growth makes little sense.

    But Clinton was a far better economic steward. He kept revenue and spending aligned; Reagan did not; Bush I did not; And the current Bush has no idea what the term “fiscal conservative” means.

  • Bennett

    Great points, Sean. By the way, fantastic post.

    Bennett

  • http://jpsgoddamnblog.blogspot.com JP

    Ruvy, you’ve got one of the key problems there, the system as we know it is going broke. Break the bank badly enough and they’ll just HAVE to cut social programs, I’m told is one of the unspoken motivators.

    RC, the number of family farmers losing land is a small percentage of the total. I’ve yet to see a convincing argument that tax cuts increase revenue, despite that people have been arguing that for 35 years. “Trickle down” didn’t work then, and it doesn’t now. As for “class warfare,” what’s worse–eliminating needed services to give more to the rich, or talking about it?

    Andy–Sure, let’s terminate the police and fire departments, libraries, public parks, everything but our glorious military. Great thinking. I’m more of a mind of shared sacrifice, common good–“community” even. By participating in a community, you enter a “social contract” where your participation and taxes are provided in exchange for protection and services a private entity can’t provide on its own. But we seem to have less and less patience for, or interest in, others in this country, so I’m sure this means nothing to you.

  • Bliffle

    Dave: “The reason for getting rid of the estate tax is very, very simple. That money, more than any other source of wealth in the US goes directly into investment.”

    There’s precious little data to support this, and my experience with bank trustfund handling suggests that any such investments are so risk averse as to drive down the returns by competitive pressure downward if nothing else. Thus, these funds do not fund the innovative businesses and technologies that refresh the economy. Rather, they compete among themselves to discount safe returns.

    Also, the general form of economic argument that “if we do this then that will result” is difficult to maintain, absent pretty thorough data analysis. Simple arm-waving won’t do.

    In any case, this is a consumer economy, not a producer economy, so market trends and the fortunes of businesses and sectors is determined mostly by consumption trends. Investment plays a secondary roll, basically responding to consumer dictates.

    Personally, I believe that the only inheritance a father owes his children is a healthy childhood, a decent education, and a running start at establishing ones own life and achievements. I believe this is the example of the best of the Founders of the USA. After providing a little help for a couple members of my extended family that need a little help, whatever is left goes to Worthy Causes.

  • Propernoun

    The estate tax is primarily damaging to small business owner’s who have died and left their money and property to their children. Imagine having to shutdown a business, put people out of work, shrink economic opportunity, and all because the inheritance can be taxed to death at a rate of between 50-70%? It happens.

    What the estate tax does is destroy small business in America and paves the way for less competition and more control of the economy by large corporations. Yes, below a certain thresh-hold, there should be no estate tax. Surpass that threshold, and the taxes should be proportional to the wealth being inherited.

    Don’t want to invest and make the money work? Want to blow it all on luxury items and not reinvest in your future? Throw in a period of time where the inheritance is tax-free, then tax the hell out of it after a certain period of time.

    America provides opportunity. So why not pay back the opportunity you have been given, and at a reasonable rate of return to the system that has allowed you and your children to prosper to the tune of tens-of-millions or even billions of dollars? You should not have to? Then you should not have the opportunity to live in a society that allows you to do so.

    The wealthy, and I am not talking about the rich, have a vested interest in maintaining and expanding their own economic power. This is done by ensuring the continuation of economic policy bought with the very best money can buy.

    Question: How many Congressmen, Presidents, etc. have been related to one another in the twentieth century? Of those that are related, how many are trust fund babies? Check it out.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Well put, Proper.

    What troubles me is that the effort to cut down the wealth of a tiny number of extremely wealthy individuals, when applied as a system of taxation, almost always brings unintended consequences to people of more moderate means or to those rising in the economy which can be disastrous – as in the case of the estate tax on small businesses – or just discouraging of success – as is the case with a graduated income tax.

    What is wrong with people who cannot see that punitive measures taken against a minority out of greed and envy harm the entirety of society?

    Dave

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    JP says Andy–Sure, let’s terminate the police and fire departments, libraries, public parks, everything but our glorious military. Great thinking. I’m more of a mind of shared sacrifice, common good–“community” even. By participating in a community, you enter a “social contract” where your participation and taxes are provided in exchange for protection and services a private entity can’t provide on its own. But we seem to have less and less patience for, or interest in, others in this country, so I’m sure this means nothing to you.

    one minute (comment #53) you tell me you’re talking about federal taxes and the next you bring up local stuff like cops and firemen! Make up your mind!

    Now if you want to talk local taxes??? My house was reassessed this year…again…it’s now worth $50,000 more than it was last year…holy fuck I’m a rich man! Oh wait, the city didn’t readjust the tax rate??? But my pay didn’t go up to match my new home assessment??? My taxes went up, so now I’m making less money than I did last year…but hey, I’m more wealthy than I was last year, because my house is now worth more! So now the city can pay the cops and the teachers and the firemen and the city council people and the city’s home assessor more money. Wonder what my home will be worth this time next year???

    You know damn well I wasn’t talking about cops and firemen when I said less benefits…but go ahead and play dumb!

    To many people in this country with their hands out believing they’re entitiled to something that I have to pay for…fuck them!

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Don’t worry, Andy. You can spend your house. People are eager to loan you money against it to well over its real value until you wallow in inflated debt.

    dave

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    Dave – I know, my mailbox is stuffed full of offers every day! I might need to just to pay the new property taxes!

  • gonzo marx

    simple cause and effect Andy….

    the Fed cuts taxes and passes down the burdens to the state, who are forced to raise some taxes and then pass down the burden to the municipalities who raise yer property taxes to try and cover the unfunded mandates given to them by defecit spending tax cutting GOP controlled Feds

    see how that works?

    and just wait, in the years to come …we get to try and pay down the Deficit and Debt as well!!!

    as i’ve said before, it’s easy to make things appear to be getting better when you finance the Nation’s mortgage by using “credit cards”…which makes everything look all good and prosperous…

    until they are maxxed out and the bills come due

    doesn’t anyone remember how this same bullshit trick was done in the 80’s?

    Excelsior!

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    but gonzo – I live in a vacation spot…they tax the hell out of hotels down at the beach and rental cars…that’s supposed to help our pretty little town here.

    and I was in the military in the 80’s, I remember getting a fat payraise around the time Ronnie became pres.

    We’ve managed to pay the bills off before, I’m sure they’ll manage it again…probably after they’re done replenishing all the freaking bombs they’ve been wasting.

  • gonzo marx

    well Andy…notice how the Deficit was brought to a surplus?

    it was done with a divided government…neither “gang” controlled everything….checks and balances were in place

    credit BOTH “parties” for doing their jobs in the 90’s…and going from Deficit to Surplus…

    then we get a totalitarian , single Party control of our government…and look what has happened since those checks and balances were removed…

    nuff said?

    Excelsior!

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    You know I agree with you on the checks and balances thing. I agree that we need at least two parties…but I also believe the pres should have line item veto power, so we don’t build bridges to nowhere on the federal dime.

    nuff said.

  • gonzo marx

    a, but Andy..the power of the Purse belongs to Congress…

    if the Pres had line item veto, he could veto anything the Opposition wanted, and let his own gang’s pork slide through

    there are definate Reasons why things are the way they are, and giving the Executive unfettered and unchecked Power over the Budget is a very….bad….thing

    even though one would think it woudl make sense

    example: many folks owuld like Bush to have that Power right now…but woudl the same folks have wanted Clinton to have it?

    the Persecution rests…

    Excelsior!

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    Persecution rests… funny guy gonzo

    HA!

  • Nancy

    I don’t want that stupid, arrogant, incompetent shithead maggot Bush to have line item veto over anything more serious than what he orders for breakfast; he’s not capable of thinking well enough to handle anything more. I sure as hell don’t want him getting his filthy mitts on the budget as well so’s he can play partyline blackmail. However, I also have a problem with congress, none of whom in either party seem to have a vertebra(e) to spare, and all of whom are just awash in spending Other People’s Money. Damn them all.

  • Bliffle

    Mr. RE: “Quite frankly, I love the rich. If it were not for their business, I would not be middle class, myself.”

    Yeah, me too. Like you, I decided that the path to riches was to Parasitize The Rich. As Willy Sutton said “that’s where the money is”. Nevertheless, tho it works good for me, now, it seems like stupid economic policy for an entire nation. Just imagine if smarter people than you and I catch on and start competing with us! We’ll be out on the street in short order!

    “Dave is right. The returns from the invested money do nurture the middle class and the poor, who in some way, shape or form, benefit from it.”

    Of course, the danger of this argument is that one can apply it to anyone. Thus, “if we give all the money to the bandits then they will spend it and eventually everyone will benefit!”. Duh. The real danger is the communist: “if we give it to the poor then eventually even the rich will benefit!” Alas, alas: we have surrendered our best weaponry to the enemy!

    One should not be so foolish a strategist.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    I like the rich too…sauteed with a nice white whine.

    But seriously, Bliffle. Stop making sense. You’re scaring me.

    Dave

  • http://jpsgoddamnblog.blogspot.com JP

    Andy – When the federal government cuts the amount it subsidizes the states because of decreased revenue, the states and cities raise their taxes. They’re not totally independent of one another.

  • Bliffle

    “What is wrong with people who cannot see that punitive measures taken against a minority out of greed and envy harm the entirety of society?”

    Are we talking about the credit card companies that so effectively restricted the ability of small debtors to declare bankruptcy? Through their abject servants in the congress?

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Well, I wasn’t talking about that, but it’s a valid issue, Bliff. Not comparable, though.

    Dave

  • james kong

    response to comment 3:
    I’m no economist, but if you claim wealth is not a “zero sum system” I would think our economy is a “negative sum system” in which our economy actually loses/sends money to other economies (claim this because increasing national debt and soaring trade deficit). So if the rich are getting richer, and the country as a whole is losing money, the people who are not getting richer must be becoming even poorer.

    maybe i’m just wrong.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    I don’t want that stupid, arrogant, incompetent shithead maggot Bush to have line item veto… I also have a problem with congress,…all of whom are just awash in spending Other People’s Money.

    You can’t have it both ways, Nancy. If you want to stop Congress from spending out of control the only answer is the line item veto, which Bush WOULD use to cut spending and likely in areas most of us agree on. Plus like any veto congress could still override it, but it would take cooperation from BOTH parties for a 2/3 vote, which I would think even you could see is a very good thing.

    Dave

  • gonzo marx

    comment #88 sez…
    *If you want to stop Congress from spending out of control the only answer is the line item veto, which Bush WOULD use to cut spending and likely in areas most of us agree on.*

    you hve got to be kidding me…only a sociopathic delusional liar, or a naive kool aid drinking innocent could possibly believe that such a bit of anti-Constitutional legislation as a line item veto woudl be used for ANYTHING other than blackmail of the Opposition party (lining out their items and passing his own parties Pork)

    try the smell test….if you like the Idea of Bush having this Power, would you have liked Clinton to have it?….how about Howard Dean?

    spare me the bullshit

    Excelsior!

  • Nancy

    Well, Dave, I have never claimed to be logical about all of this all the time. I just know I get SOOOOO frustrated with everything that’s corrupt & just plain WRONG, and it seems both/all sides are all in cahoots about it.

  • Bliffle

    “…the only answer is the line item veto, which Bush WOULD use to cut spending and likely in areas most of us agree on…”

    Most of us? A conclusion not in evidence.

  • Bliffle

    Hmmm: “…If you want to stop Congress from spending out of control the only answer is the line item veto,…”

    Seems to some that the administration is doing the wild spending, and that Bush has failed to veto ANY spending bill already. Doesn’t Bush command the republican party, thus the congress? Both houses AND the supremes? Why would one expect an improvement?

  • Bliffle

    Dave: “…Well, I wasn’t talking about that, but it’s a valid issue, Bliff. Not comparable, though…”

    Not comparable only because one is a dream and the other a reality in legislation.

  • gracefulboomer

    Agree.
    With Bush approval ratings low and Cheney’s numbers even lower, the administration is not in a strong enough position to alienate their own political party by cutting Republican written, Republican approved spending bills.
    With a Republican majority in both the House and Senate fearful of the upcoming elections, Bush has no political base to clamor for the line item veto.
    Based on past performance (Bush has never vetoed a piece of legislation) when Bush approval ratings were in the low nineties, it would be a real stretch to assume Bush would change course and rein in Republican controlled spending at this time when he is a much weaker second term President.
    It’s really been a long time since members of his party even talked up the power of a line item veto.
    Bush’s call during his State of the Union for the authority of the line item veto is a political red herring which his White House advisors know in advance is a moot point, as the Supreme Court has already struck down giving this power to the Prez.
    It’s much better politically for Bush to imply that he would curb Republican spending than to actually have to decide on what spending projects would be vetoed.
    Just think of the political ad… Republican Senator So-and-So’s pet pork project is vetoed by Pres. Bush as wasteful spending.
    If Bush had to rein in Senator So-and-So why would you the voter re-elect him? .. and that is just Republican primary fodder, within the Republican party itself.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Good points on the political inviability of the line-item-veto. I still think it would help a hell of a lot even if it only meant cutting pork from the minority party – though I suspect that to avoid political repurcussions the president would have to cut some from both parties.

    Dave

  • gonzo marx

    comment #95 sez…
    *though I suspect that to avoid political repurcussions the president would have to cut some from both parties.*

    bullshit…this POTUS has veto’d NOTHING yet…not even the uber wasteful pork his GOP House and SEnate have set before him…

    so by what stretch of Logic do you think he woudl do other than as i have stated and use the unConstitutional line item veto for anything other than political purposes?

    puh-leeEEEEeeeezZZZzze

    Excelsior!

  • http://midtopia.blogspot.com Sean Aqui

    I don’t mind a little pork in bills, because it’s what greases the wheels of government. It’s when it becomes a porkfest that I object.

    I supported the line-item veto for Clinton, and I support it for Bush. It’s not a panacea — it will simply become one more negotiating tool in the legislative dance — but I like it because it makes someone responsible for the content of the bill.

    Right now, people can chain together hundreds of worthwhile expenditures with thousands of bad ones, and the only choice is to approve or reject the entire thing. That lets everybody evade responsibility by claiming the bill was too important to vote against, even if there was more pork than there should have been.

    With the line-item veto, we can hold the president responsible for the final form of bills — and Congress responsible if they override the veto.

  • Dave Nalle

    Gonzo, I direct you to Sean’s fine summary of the reasons for the line item veto.

    Bush isn’t vetoing anything without the LIV, so why are you worried about what he would veto with it?

    Dave

  • gonzo marx

    better solution then Sean…

    how about only ONE “item” per Bill?

    stops all that nonsense right away….no “riders”…no “amendments”…just the Bill….vote it, sign it or not

    ya know, like the way the Constitution states

    silly of me, i know

    Excelsior!

  • http://midtopia.blogspot.com Sean Aqui

    That would be ideal, but in a country as large as ours it’s simply impractical. Nothing would ever get done.

    Come to think of it, that’s not such a bad idea….

  • gonzo marx

    now yer catching on…

    i’m a big fan of gridlock…

    but on a semi-serious note here…it IS practical…much quicker to getr a single thing done than these huge bits og bloatware that no one even reads

    example: the “Patriot Act”

    if passed, provision by provision, in each of it’s own Laws…and discussed as such….how much better would the results be?

    what the fuck do i care how long it takes…it’s their fucking JOB to get this shit right

    not to spew out quantity, but bring quality

    Excelsior!

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    how about only ONE “item” per Bill?

    stops all that nonsense right away….no “riders”…no “amendments”…just the Bill….vote it, sign it or not

    ya know, like the way the Constitution states

    The constitution doesn’t say one word about amendments positive or negative, which leaves how they determine what’s in a bill up to the process the Congress chooses to set, and for hundreds of years – well before the founding of our republic – the legislative process has included amending bills.

    Look at the current immigration bill. If not for the amendment process we would have had to choose between straight amnesty and fortress america and illegals in detention camps and their employers in jail. With the amendment process we end up with a nice balanced bill with the best of both approaches.

    Dave

  • gonzo marx

    again..i re-iterate the same position as the SCOTUS…Congress has the purse strings..and i hold to the contention that a line item veto woudl do no good, and only be used for political purposes

    as for my interpertation of Bills into Law…my point is ONE Law per Bill

    in the case of this immigration mess, you are setting all the details of a law…now adding some pork project or an amendment for a poison pill is what i am speaking against…

    one Law = one Bill

    clear enough?

    that stops folks from hiding shit , riding shit and otherwise fucking around with the system, thus eliminating any need for a line item type deal

    again, reverse it…do you GOP types want Pres Howard Dean to have line item power?

    Excelsior!

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    I agree that stuff unrelated to the main law should be kept off of a bill. In the case of the immigration bill this seems to be true, because the amendments are changing its core content, not tacking on marginally related stuff. Plus it’s not really an appropriateions bill.

    But the problem is that some things – usually big appropriations bills like the highway bill last year – are so comprehensive that you can tack on a lot of pork and it still looks pretty pertinent. That bill had 4000 amendments at least a quarter of which were pure pork. But they were in the form of bridges to nowhere, highways no one wants or needs, luxury bus stops, bizarre transportation subsidies and the like.

    Dave

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Oh and I have no problem with President Dean having line item veto so long as congress can override it with a 2/3 majority just like a regular veto.

    Dave

  • Alec

    Sean – I tend to agree with you that the estate tax is a good thing, but with a few reservations. Economic wealth is not a zero-sum game; that Bill Gates is worth billions does not mean that he has stolen any money that might have been distributed to thousands of others. As long as an economy is growing, and a majority of citizens have the ability to earn, save, and spend, then the fact that there are some who have amassed great fortunes is not necessarily a big deal. And comparisons with pre-Revolutionary era France or Victorian England are largely irrelevant. Both of those societies had social and economic systems which greatly favored a hereditary aristocracy over other groups. But while people love to talk about “the rich” in America as though this is a monolithic everlasting group, the plain fact is that there are practically no families of great wealth from even the early 20th century America who have a monopoly on wealth today.

    Comparisons with South America are more on point, especially since the Bush administration has a great affinity for oligarchies and seems intent on decimating the American middle class.

    But it is simply, and absolutely not true, as Dave Nalle claims, that money from estates that would otherwise be taxed goes directly into the economy as investments. This is the kind of thing that you typically get from people who are long on theory but short on an actual knowledge of American history. And here is where we see a value in an estate tax. Many who end up receiving inherited wealth do not also inherit the drive or the ability to generate continued wealth, so they often devote their lives either to fighting one another over the spoils (like the descendents of the Dodge automotive brothers) or in trying to bribe politicians into passing laws which will grant them huge favors to help them try to protect their wealth. In the short and intermediate term, this distorts the economy and prevents others from competing against established monied interests.

    One of the smartest things that the founders ever did was to abolish titles of nobility and the entire machinery of maintaining a hereditary aristocracy. An estate tax continues this legacy by denying the ability of a hereditary economic aristocracy from getting a foothold in this country.

    By the way, both Congress and the Bush administration have been slow to address the AMT. Because distortions and a lack of indexing have pushed more of the middle class into the AMT, it is an easy way to get more tax revenues while maintaining the polite fiction that you have not raised taxes – you just let the system do it automatically.

  • gonzo marx

    Alec sez….
    *By the way, both Congress and the Bush administration have been slow to address the AMT. Because distortions and a lack of indexing have pushed more of the middle class into the AMT, it is an easy way to get more tax revenues while maintaining the polite fiction that you have not raised taxes – you just let the system do it automatically.*

    Quoted for Truth

    Excelsior!

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    so then, taxes are already going up…we don’t need to raise any more???

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    The AMT may be an easy solution, but it’s hardly a fair one. Those people on the borderline between brackets who fall under the AMT but still have relatively low incomes really get raped out of proportion to their ability to pay. It’s like putting the highest tax burden on the middle class, and that’s exactly the wrong thing to do.

    Dave

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    But it is simply, and absolutely not true, as Dave Nalle claims, that money from estates that would otherwise be taxed goes directly into the economy as investments. This is the kind of thing that you typically get from people who are long on theory but short on an actual knowledge of American history.

    To not see the truth of this is to basically completely deny reality. Regardless of what other uses the inheritors of wealth have for that wealth, they inherit it in the form of investments, not in the form of cash, and they don’t put it in their mattresses and leave it there indefinitely. If they spend it on lawyers or yachts or anything at all it goes back into the economy. To suggest that this is not the case is to ignore basic reality in a way which can only be done by those who are blinded by ideology.

    Dave

  • gonzo marx

    comment #109 sez…
    *Those people on the borderline between brackets who fall under the AMT but still have relatively low incomes really get raped out of proportion to their ability to pay. It’s like putting the highest tax burden on the middle class, and that’s exactly the wrong thing to do.*

    Quoted for Truth

    note: mark this one on the calendar kiddies…

    Excelsior!