Superwealthy Get Cranky When Asked To Help Reduce Deficit

Bill Scher

Since I had the temerity to mention that the America’s wealthiest heirs should pay their fair share on their inheritance windfalls to help reduce the deficit, their front groups have been very busy attacking me.

Yesterday I noted some of lies the American Family Business Institute used to attack me to try to shift attention away from a top lobbyist’s admission that the superwealthy are worried about what will happen when the estate tax returns in 2011 and helps cut the deficit.

Now it’s the Business & Media Institute, which is a subsidiary of the right-wing Media Research Center, funded by ExxonMobil and several conservative foundations.

In his attack on me, BMI’s Anthony Kang jam packs a litany of lies in one paragraph: “…the ‘estate tax’ hampers job-creation, promotes the concentration of wealth, hits minorities particularly hard (reminiscent of “sin” taxes)…”

The notion that the estate tax would cause job losses is based on a study from … the anti-estate American Family Business Institute!

Written by former McCain campaign economic aide Douglas Holtz-Eakin, the study claimed the estate tax will destroy 1.5 million jobs, which ThinkProgress quickly debunked: “Holtz-Eakin asserts that eliminating the estate tax would raise the wealth reported on estates by over $1.6 trillion. He describes this as an ‘increase in small business capital,’ despite the fact that only 1.3 percent of the .24 percent of all estates who pay estate taxes are small businesses.”

The twisted claim that the estate tax actually causes a concentration of wealth is a right-wing distortion of a 30-year academic paper from Nobel Laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz, which he cautioned against “prohibitively high” estate tax rates, which were over 70% at the time. In fact, Stiglitz wrote in his book “The Roaring Nineties,” “The inheritance tax had in fact been a positive force in shaping American society, encouraging the creation of foundations and private universities, which have played such an important role in civic life and the country’s success.”

And the disgusting claim that the estate tax “hit minorities particularly hard” is a wild distortion of research by two Boston College professors, which noted that the “very few very wealthy African American estates” may contribute $257 billion in estate taxes over a 55-year period. This became the right-wing talking point that the estate tax “will reduce net African-American wealth by 13%.”

All of this misdirection is intended to obscure the point that America’s wealthiest heirs do not want to pay their fair share to reduce the deficit, and have to admitted their fear that once the “Paris Hilton tax” returns, the public will be pleased to see the superwealthy pay a proper tax on their inheritance windfalls.

America’s wealthiest heirs are afraid. And they lie.

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