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Estate Tax Tiff

Once again, the Republicans in the House of Representatives are showing their true colors – and they ain’t pretty. They long have railed against Obama because the middle and lower classes have so little, and charge him with causing the nation’s debt to spiral out of control. Then they voted last week to contribute precisely to those problems by repealing the estate tax on multimillionaires and billionaires.

President Obama

This is what Americans voted for in November’s landslide election of Republicans to the House. Are you happy, folks? Was it in your best interests?

The unlucky 1 percent

Estates worth more than $5.43 million for an individual or $10.86 million for a couple are taxed at rates up to 40 percent. That’s fewer than 1 percent of all estates. Eliminating the tax would add $14.6 billion to the debt in the 2016 fiscal year and $269 billion over 10 years. That’s almost $27 billion a year.

House Speaker John Boehner

And what did Speaker of the House John Boehner say about that? The New York Times quoted him as saying the amount “is nothing more than a drop in the bucket to the federal government.” So much for concern over the debt.

“Family farmers, ranchers and small-business owners work tirelessly to create jobs in our communities, put food on our tables and, God willing, have something to pass on to their children and grandchildren,” the Times quoted Boehner as saying. “Taking away that opportunity … is simply wrong.”

U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady

Republican Representatives Kevin Brady of Texas and Steve Scalise of Louisiana said repealing the tax would create an estimated 139,000 jobs.

Dems beg to differ

U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise

Democrats don’t see it that way, accusing the Republicans of favoring the wealthiest Americans at the expense of everyone else. Obama said a repeal of the tax would benefit just 120 households in North Carolina, for example – 5,400 across the nation – while his own plan to reduce taxes for families of low and medium incomes would help 44 million people.

What do those small-business owners think of the effort to repeal the estate tax? Not much, if you listen to Deborah Field, co-owner of Paperjam Press in Portland, Ore., and a member of an alliance of 2,500 small businesses in the state.

You’re lookin’ out for me?

“This is just one more instance in which the cover of small businesses is being used by special-interest lobbyists in Washington who are rigging the system for the wealthy,” she wrote in an op-ed piece carried in the Palm Beach Post. “Only 20 small businesses and small family farms paid any estate taxes in 2013, a typical year. That’s across the entire country.”

She continued, “My little business is threatened more by income inequality, and by big corporations not paying their fair share of taxes, than it is by the estate tax. As more wealth is accumulated in the hands of the rich, and as incomes stagnate for everyone else, fewer people and fellow business owners in my neighborhood can come here to buy high-end paper goods and custom design and printing services. So don’t be fooled into believing that wealthy people want to repeal the estate tax to help out ordinary folks; they are campaigning to preserve their fabulous riches for their heirs. This truly is a 99 percent versus 1 percent issue.

Telling it like it ain’t

“The friends of big business trot out an old and fallacious argument to justify their efforts to repeal the estate tax. They say that the estate tax discourages investment, so people like me will not try to grow our business because of it. The real brake on my business is not having enough customers …” because they don’t have the money to spend. Field said that the “average estate taxes will be cut by $3 million. That kind of money can do a lot to reduce income inequality in America and to spur the small-business economy.”

White House Press Secretary John Earnest

Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, accused the Republicans of holding to a double standard, because they usually insist that Obama offset any tax cuts he proposes, while their estate tax repeal would just add to the deficit. “Some might call it hypocritical,” Earnest said, “but it certainly is in my mind at least ironic.”

False alarm

For now, at least, Field can relax. The House bill has little chance of passage in the Senate, and would be vetoed by Obama, anyway.

So who’s looking out for your interests, folks – Obama and most congressional Democrats, or the Republicans?

#PaperjamPress #DeborahField #veto #estatetax #JohnBoehner #KevinBrady #PortlandOregon #HouseofRepresentatives #SteveScalise #JoshEarnest #Democrats #smallbusinesses #Republicans #Obama

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