The estate tax is in the news again, and (surprise!) the Seattle Times is editorializing against it:
The supporters of this tax, which we call the death tax, like to talk about rich bankers, entertainers and other upper crustaceans who die with a moraine of stocks, bonds, cash and title deeds to ten-bathroom palaces. If these were the only payers of this tax, we might heartily support it.
The opponents of this tax, who we call the Blethen family, apparently would have no problem applying this tax to the estates of bankers and entertainers — you know, folks who supposedly earned their fortunes rather than inheriting it through multiple generations — they just don’t want to pay it themselves. So much for ideological consistency let alone the moral high ground. (Oh, and the next time an editorialist accuses somebody like me of advocating class warfare, I’ll be sure to remember that quote.)
The death-tax bill now goes to the Senate. We implore our senators to lighten the load of it, or to pass a one-year extension and save this issue until after the 2010 elections.
Yes, the issue should be put aside until after Republicans have a chance to gain some seats in 2010, and unless Sen. Patty Murray supports this self-serving proposal, the Times will no doubt endorse her opponent, no matter how unqualified.
Personally, if I were Frank, I’d be wary of any delays. Under current law the estate tax temporarily falls to zero in 2010, before rising to 55% in 2011. Assuming the family business is actually worth something (and 49.5% stakeholder McClatchy seems to think it isn’t,) the fifth generation heirs might just off the family patriarch in order to save a bundle on their tax bills.
And if they did, they’d have come by their mercenary ways honestly.