SOME PANTLOAD GETS THE FJM TREATMENT

Posted in Rants on November 18th, 2009 by Ed

The world headquarters of TownHall.com, pictured here, is like Mecca for dipshits. They pray toward it five times daily. And every day their faith is rewarded.

Since it's apparently 2001 and Tom DeLay is still relevant, it's time to debate the estate tax again! Wooooo! Since its big guns are all far, far too busy writing about Islamistical Muslimist Terrorists shooting up military bases and being found innocent in liberal New York courtrooms (seriously, there are like 25 columns about it), TownHall had to hand this important task to some bag of fluid in a cheap suit named Ed Feulner. Ed is up to the challenge though, serving up a steaming cauldron of persuasion called "Time to Bury the 'Death Tax'". See what he did there? Bury the death tax? Oh, you'd best call the babysitter, dear readers, because wordplay like presages something so awesome that a responsible adult could not allow children to see it. Let's roll.

Kevin Hancock simply wants to harvest trees — sustainably — and create jobs in the process. The federal government may put a stop to all that.

That's why I'm calling my Congressman – and I recommend you do the same – and telling him "Vote NO! on the Stop Kevin Hancock from Harvesting Trees and Omnibus Defense Spending Reconciliation Bill!" NO on H.R. 312, YES on Kevin Hancock harvesting trees.

His business, Hancock Lumber, has been in the family for six generations. It owns 30,000 acres of Maine timberland and employs 550 people. But Kevin already knows that when his elderly mother dies, he’ll have to sell off huge swaths of his land to pay the ensuing tax bill.

Wow, his company is that big and they don't have any other source of revenue? Given that…hmm…the tax only applies to estates worth more than $3 million, there should be some cash available. Nah.

It’s an example of the long reach of the death tax

Estate tax. Understandable typo.

the penalty families have to pay when a loved one dies and leaves them significant assets.

Right. The "penalty" that a fraction of a percent of households have to pay when Dad tries to will the kids his $3 million-plus estate, thus essentially giving each of them a couple million dollars in income – unearned income, like winning the Lotto -for that tax year.

Yet, for Hancock and many others, some relief may be in sight. In 2001, lawmakers passed a law that gradually phased out the levy, which has destroyed countless family-owned businesses over the years.

So many that Ed Feulner couldn't possibly take the time to mention an example here. Businesses destroyed by the estate tax, like examples of voter fraud, are so pervasive that it's not possible to identify any specific cases.

The death tax has been stepped down from 55 percent (for those in the top tax bracket) 8 years ago to 45 percent. But that gradual decline was just a prelude for 2010, when the tax will — finally — disappear all together.

The top bracket is for estates worth more than $10 million. Thank god it's expiring next year, one of the hidden "Surprise! Fuck you!" landmines left behind by the Bush administration. Oddly he didn't believe strongly enough in repealing the tax to take the revenue hit on his own watch.

Unfortunately, like the killer in so many slasher movies, the death tax could return to menace family businesses again in 2011. Unless Congress acts, it’s scheduled to return to the obscene 55 percent rate after next year, thus reawakening the nightmare of the American Dream.

Slow down with the pop culture references, Mr. Radical!

Lawmakers are poised to take action soon. But Americans should insist they take the right action. For example, earlier this year the Senate passed a non-binding amendment that would set the death tax at 35 percent starting next year. That’s quite a jump from zero percent, and would be a big step in the wrong direction.

A non-binding amendment? Wow. It's almost like we're dead broke and the Senate is looking at every source of revenue carefully, understanding that we have to make choices that may be unpleasant or involve sacrifices.

The sensible thing would be for lawmakers to leave the current policy in place and allow the death tax to go away completely. With the Senate already facing titanic struggles over health care, global warming and federal spending this year, there’s no point in attempting to upend a policy that’s already set in law.

I just called one of my friends at the University of Arguments and he said this is, without a doubt, the lamest argument in the history of arguments. The law's on the books, so we might as well leave it – so much easier than changing it. Is the Senate composed of 19 year old stoners who can't be bothered to get up for Funyuns and will stare at a 12 hour Dirty Jobs marathon because it's so much easier than finding the remote?

Besides, Americans deserve to see how much better things would be without the death tax, especially since repealing it might help our country — finally — pull out of recession.

See, Ed's really looking out for the little guy here. For you. This isn't about preserving the wealth of the top tenth of one percent of the population. It's about letting you see how much better the world will be when phenomenally wealthy people get to hold on to just a little bit more of the money they earned, especially since they've been earning so much more once they moved your job to Indonesia.

The death tax is a job killer. Heritage Foundation economists found that the…

Yes, let's ask non-partisan experts at the Heritage Foundation! I wonder if they will reach the only conclusion they've ever reached about anything ever. In other news, the National Association of Corn Processors have conducted a study on the deliciousness of corn syrup and discovered that corn syrup is a nutritious, delicious, and essential part of a daily diet without which you will develop AIDS.

By the way, remember the Heritage reference. I have a surprise for you at the end.

found that the federal levy leads to the loss of between 170,000 and 250,000 potential jobs each year. (It’s impossible to be more specific, simply because those jobs were never created in the first place. We certainly could use them now).

"It's really hard to be specific when you're basically bending forward and pulling statistics out of your ass."

How does it kill jobs?

30% are killed in the initial blast; essentially any job within 1000m of the tax is instantly vaporized. Medium-term effects like shortwave ionizing radiation kill another 30 to 40 percent of the jobs, while the final third die an excruciating death over a period of several weeks as radioactive Estate Tax Fallout enters their respiratory systems.

Partly because it encourages wealthy Americans to spend their money today rather than invest it in growing a business.

Spending money does not help the economy. Or create "demand" for "products and services." None of which has ever created a "job."

After all, we’re all going to die.

Hey, this guy's right! We are going to die. That's why I don't waste the precious time I have on this planet worrying about what the Waltons will have to cough up when they die and leave a quarter of a billion dollars to their kids. I'm glad we had this talk.

What’s the point of building a bigger nest egg if Washington is just going to take a third of it, a half of it, or even more?

There is no point to acquiring a couple million dollars if any of it is taxed. No incentive. None. You'd be an idiot to do it.

Because the estate tax discourages investment, it also holds down wage growth. Since businesses have less funding, they’re less able to purchase new tools and equipment. So workers are less productive and suffer slower wage and salary growth.

This paragraph was plagiarized from a high school macroeconomics textbook from 1958. This is really very simple, kids. If Mr. Spacely has to pay an estate tax to will the widget factory to his son, then they can't invest in new assembly line machines to help you make more widgets. Ultimately this will cause him to open a widget factory in Guadalajara. Are you still with me? This is all very simple: do what the plutocrats say or they'll destroy you to preserve their obscene wealth.

The death tax also hammers some Americans more than others

Yes, it hammers those affected by the "death" tax – people with assets worth more than $3 million – and hammers the rest of us not one goddamn bit. Quite a hammering disparity.

since it especially targets landowners.

Isn't about time someone looked out for their interests?

Millions of farmers, ranchers and homeowners have, like the Hancock family, improved their land. Yet when they die, the federal government punishes their heirs.

It "punishes" them for being handed millions in assets they did nothing to earn except be born. I don't know how I sleep in a world with that kind of cruelty.

Death and taxes, they say, are both inevitable. But it’s not inevitable that one must lead to the other.

This is its own paragraph, denoting how proud Ed was of his clever allusion to the death theme.

Americans are set to get a glimpse of life without the death tax next year. After that, Lawmakers should act to make sure this levy goes away. Completely and forever.

Get mad, people. Then get involved. That exemption of the first $3 million in inherited property followed by a progressive tax that tops out around 50% for estates worth $10,000,000 or more may not seem like it's going to ruin your life, but that's beyond naive. Go ahead thinking that it's not going to hurt you. Let your guard down and then before you know it, the estate tax is taking your house, making you fat, and probably trying to have its way with your daughter.

By the way, might it have been worthwhile for Ed Feulner to point out that he's the President of the Heritage Foundation when appealing to their expert judgment in the column? Apparently Ed was too busy calculating the value of the estate Mom and Pop – who owned a North Shore real estate empire in Chicago – were going to leave him to pay any attention in those college ethics classes.

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