Wednesday, April 13, 2005

And speaking of death

It may be inevitable, but if you're rich enough, appartently the taxes thing isn't. This week Republicans will seek to make permanent their elimination of inheritances taxes for the wealthy which will cost the country close to a trillion (with a "t") dollars. This while seeking to reduce healthcare, food and housing for the poor using the excuse of "fiscal responsibility". Jeebus H. Keerist!

E.J. Dionne's brilliantly headlined column says it all:

The Paris Hilton Tax Cut

By E. J. Dionne Jr.
Tuesday, April 12, 2005; Page A21

The same people who insist that critics of Social Security privatization should offer reform proposals of their own are working feverishly to eliminate alternatives that might reduce the need for benefit cuts or payroll tax increases.

I refer to the fact that House Republican leaders have scheduled a vote this week to abolish the estate tax permanently. Under a wacky provision of the 2001 tax cut designed to disguise the law's full cost, Congress voted to make the estate tax go away in 2010, but come back in full force in 2011.


The Friends of Paris Hilton realize that as federal deficits mount and rising Medicare costs loom, the case for the total repeal of the estate tax grows steadily weaker. That's why they're hoping they can sucker defenders of estate taxes into a so-called compromise that gives away the store -- the store, in this case, going to Neiman-Marcus shoppers, not to those who rely on Target.

This is an instructive moment. What we are having is not a real debate on the future of Social Security but a sham discussion in which the one issue that matters to the governing majority is how to keep cutting taxes on the wealthiest people in our country.

Those who vote to repeal the estate tax this week will be sending a clear message: They see the "crisis" in Social Security as serious enough to justify benefit cuts and private accounts. But it's not serious enough to warrant a minor inconvenience to those who plan to live on their parents' wealth.
Politicians are, of course, notoriously shameless. But the current Republican congress is re-defining the term.

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