Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 21, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

ESTATE TAX LOGROLLING....The latest attempt by Republicans to eliminate the estate tax failed in the Senate by three votes a couple of weeks ago. But because this is clearly the most important problem facing our nation, the House isn't giving up. Today they offered up yet another new proposal, one that's almost the same as the one that failed earlier. Almost:

The House bill is similar to a compromise that Senate Republicans circulated two weeks ago, without success. But it includes a tax cut that would save timber companies about $900 million over the next three years, a new twist that could win as many as four more Democratic votes in the Senate.

The provision would reduce the corporate capital gains tax, which is assessed on sales of timber, to about 14 percent from 35 percent. Two of the timber industry's strongest advocates are the Democratic senators from Washington Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell who both voted with other Democrats against blocking a filibuster on the estate tax.

.... Other Democratic Senators Mark Pryor and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana were co-sponsors of a similar timber tax cut last year.

Lincoln already disgraced herself by voting for the estate tax repeal earlier this month, but the other three didn't. And they better not change their minds now based on this naked bribe. If they do, the entire party will be disgraced.

Kevin Drum 5:32 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (52)

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Fist.

Posted by: gab on June 21, 2006 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

Doesnt GW run a timber company? I seem to remember something like that came up at the 'debates' in '04...

Coink-ee-dink?

Posted by: bush on June 21, 2006 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin...why do hate America's farmers so much?

Posted by: Nathan64 on June 21, 2006 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

Clearly, you fucking Americans are so numb that this doesn't even bother you anymore, you guys just go about your day like everything is fine and dandy. Pathetic!

Posted by: tttt on June 21, 2006 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK
If they do, the entire party will be disgraced.

Well, I'd rather think that depends on how the rest of the party responds to them.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 21, 2006 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks for the constructive criticism, TTT.

Posted by: Preston on June 21, 2006 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

Murray has worked hard for veteran benefits and care and fought for extra dollars for port security after 9/11, which was reduced in the last budget.

Cantwell got gold stars for staring down asshole Ted Stevens on ANWR and getting FERC to turn loose with info about ENRON price fixing and such in 2001-2002.

However, both my senators have embarrassed me time and again during the Bush tenure by, like most everyone else's snetors, rolling over and playing dead on every Bush appointee.

Saying no to Weyerhaeuser will be difficult for all these people because it has forest and mill interests in all three states. That being said, Weyerhaeuser simply isn't as important to the Washington state economy as it was thirty years ago, and none of the companies, just like mining interests, have ever paid more than market prices for the trees they took out of public forest lands while fucking-up habitat and replanting mono-culture replacements.

Corporate welfare, just like farm subsidies, hurts the general public. I hope they both show some spine, but I'm not holding my breath.

Posted by: JeffII on June 21, 2006 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

Just like the Republican'ts. If you can't convince people, bribe them.

Posted by: Cal Gal on June 21, 2006 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

"If something is not done, it could mean that a number of our companies divest their timberlands."

If these timber companies are trying to scare us they need to try harder.

Posted by: rewolfrats on June 21, 2006 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK

Our political "process", if you can call it that, is killing our country.

Posted by: ckelly on June 21, 2006 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks for the constructive criticism, TTT.
Posted by: Preston

However, Triple T is correct - we are fucking pathetic. In the greater scheme of things, the colonists revolted over far less substantial financial and political infringements than we've endured since 9/11.

Well, okay. We don't each have to house and feed a marine division. But otherwise . . .

Posted by: JeffII on June 21, 2006 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

If the House wants to vote to give me a million dollars, I'll start voting Republican. Sometimes. Maybe.

No, better make it $10 million.

Posted by: craigie on June 21, 2006 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

If this timber tax deal is being negotiated with Frist, who's to say it's worth the paper it's written on if he's retiring after this session? Also, considering Lincoln was just reelected in 2004, I don't know why now should be the time for her to make nice with the Waltons.

And finally, what's with this desperation to get the estate tax cut now? Perhaps fear of a Democratic Senate in 2006? Or maybe there have been promises of ponies if it's done before the 4th of July?

Posted by: Patience on June 21, 2006 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

I expect Democrats to disgrace themselves.

JeffII, at least your Democratic senators do some decent things, unlike my two Republican senators...

Posted by: Hostile on June 21, 2006 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

Just for the record, that should be "Quadruple T," not "Triple T."

Posted by: JBL on June 21, 2006 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

And finally, what's with this desperation to get the estate tax cut now? Perhaps fear of a Democratic Senate in 2006? Posted by: Patience

Exactly.

I think it's time for Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, Sr. to take out full page ads in all the majors this week reaffirming their belief in the benefit of the inheritance tax.

Posted by: JeffII on June 21, 2006 at 6:29 PM | PERMALINK

get rid of all taxes let god take care of everything.

Posted by: Neo on June 21, 2006 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

"entire party will be disgraced"

The Republican party is beyond disgrace.

Posted by: peBird on June 21, 2006 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

P.S. - Warren Buffett and Bill Gates can easily bequeth their entire personal fortunes to the U.S. Treasury if they so choose - don't force the rest of us to do the same. Posted by: Cheney

Sorry, Charlie. No one, not even Bill Gates, Jr., has to leave even half their fortunes in excess of $5 million to the U.S. Treasury, though I know that's one of your ilks favorite lies.

Posted by: JeffII on June 21, 2006 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

Not to give the Republicans a pass (God, no!) but, of everything Democratic congresscritters have done, THIS is what would disgrace the party? There's something to be said for having a low threshold for embarassment, but you're gonna have a red face pretty much all the time if this kind of thing sets you off.

Posted by: Shelby on June 21, 2006 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

Cheney, then god can pay for those things after all he created the threat.

Posted by: Neo on June 21, 2006 at 6:53 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, providing an incentive to a company that has renewable environmental practices is horrible if it also has the effect of preventing the US government from graverobbing. Just HORRIBLE.

Posted by: American Hawk on June 21, 2006 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK

I say let Kerry pay his half billion upon his demise. Nothing wrong with that. I am sure that, curled in somewhere underground, he will not mind either.

Posted by: nut on June 21, 2006 at 7:35 PM | PERMALINK

If you want to talk specific examples though, let's use our wealthiest Senator, John F. Kerry - based on current estimates, his death tax (were he to tragically pass away this year) would be $468.6 million. Posted by: Cheney

When did the Heinz fortune become Kerry's? I think we might have seen something about this in the paper if his wife had bequeathed all her fortune to him as opposed to her children and the numoerous charities/foundations it is dedicated to.

You are a horrible liar, Charlie. That kind of crap might give them a hard on over at LGF. But, as with everything else you pull out of your ass in desperation, no one here believes a word you type.

Posted by: JeffII on June 21, 2006 at 7:38 PM | PERMALINK

Cheney is, of course, lying (maybe it is something about the name?).

Kerry isn't nearly so wealthy, though he does have a few million so he may well end up paying some estate tax, or rather his corpse will.

His wife is super rich on the order of half a billion, but those assets are hers not theirs. Personally I am not too worried about her children (I think she has more than one child) missing the few hundered million that might go to the estate tax.

Posted by: jefff on June 21, 2006 at 7:42 PM | PERMALINK

Nevermind the fact that the average estate tax paid is approximately 20% after all the loopholes are applied.

Posted by: POD on June 21, 2006 at 7:51 PM | PERMALINK

. . . it was an interesting article about many of the wealthiest members of Congress favor extending the estate tax, while many Republicans who advocate repeal have relatively little wealth. Posted by: Cheney

Proves my point exactly. Rank and file Rethugs are stupid. Of course, you confirm that every time you post here. They haven't the slightest idea where their own or the nation's economic interests lie.

Posted by: JeffII on June 21, 2006 at 7:52 PM | PERMALINK

^

Oh my god Pod, the graverobbers only got 20% of grandpa's stuff! I feel so much better!!!

Posted by: American Hawk on June 21, 2006 at 7:53 PM | PERMALINK

What ever (sic), JeffII. For the rest of you, I will go get the same info on the 4 Senators from the article Mr. Drum is upset with . . . Posted by: Cheney

You need help moving those goal posts, Chuckles? Where's T-Bone when you need him, huh?

Posted by: JeffII on June 21, 2006 at 8:01 PM | PERMALINK

We have to pay for the government services that we want. The ultra-rich have benefitted greatly from civil society, and their children have done nothing to earn their mountains of cash except choosing the right parents. There is a reason why people who actually earned their money - like Bill Gates - support an estate tax while undeserving brats (like the Walton clan) want to pass the bill onto everyone else.

Posted by: Marc on June 21, 2006 at 8:06 PM | PERMALINK

I trust those people (yes, even Teresa) to do better things with that money than I do the government.
Posted by: Cheney on June 21, 2006 at 7:39 PM | PERMALINK

I don't.

It's my money. See if she would have made as much money living in Afghanistan, where they don't tax you because they don't buy infrastructure.

She's gotta pay her fair share for the infrastructure that made her rich.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on June 21, 2006 at 8:08 PM | PERMALINK

That half billion dollars did belong to a Senator once though, Republican Senator John Heinz.

I'm sure it was hard, hard work inheriting his great great grandpa's fortune though.

Hard work.

Posted by: jefff on June 21, 2006 at 8:12 PM | PERMALINK

gosh, 20% for the heir on unearned income. Brutal.

Posted by: pod on June 21, 2006 at 8:20 PM | PERMALINK

Osama_Been_Forgotten: See if she would have made as much money living in Afghanistan, where they don't tax you because they don't buy infrastructure.

Hmmm. Sounds dangerously close to the argument for the estate tax given by that infamous neo-Marxist, Warren Buffett.

Have a nice day, comrade.

Posted by: alex on June 21, 2006 at 8:32 PM | PERMALINK

And they better not change their minds now based on this naked bribe. If they do, the entire party will be disgraced."

This sounds like something Kos would write. I expect better from you, Kevin.

Cantwell and Murray represent a purplish blue state. Pryor, Lincoln, & Landrieu represent blood red states.

Do you like being the 55-45 minority party in the senate? Keep demanding fealty to the national Democratic Party orthodoxy from these five and the other red-state senators and we'll be the filibuster proof 60-40 minority soon enough.

Save your moral outrage and high dudgeon for the Republicans. If Democrats would spend as much energy trying to win elections as we do ripping each other apart, then we would be the majority party in this country and the estate tax wouldn't even be on the table.

Posted by: fembot on June 21, 2006 at 9:02 PM | PERMALINK

If Charlie/Cheney was just a teeny bit smarter he'd realize what a schmuck he is and keep his chewy gob smacked.

Posted by: Googles McGurk on June 21, 2006 at 9:06 PM | PERMALINK

Republicons are supposed to be against fiddling with the tax code anyway, and allegedly their whole shtick is supposed to be flat rates (even if adj. for type, not different per industry.) They are total frauds. If those Dems change their votes, they should be persons non grata for ever.

Posted by: Neil' on June 21, 2006 at 9:21 PM | PERMALINK

I was going to write a long post about the effects of repealing the estate tax.

I was going to write about how the repeal would create a de factor aristocracy that has no need to, or interest in, maintaining the national community - schools, healthcare, municipal services, or libraries, much less things like Social Security - when it can fund, build, and use its own networks.

Then I realized, we're already there. The top tier has already opted out of the national community. It already sends its kids to private schools, has its own healthcare and retirement taken care of; in some cases it already lives in enclaves with their own firefighters, police, and utilities.

Repealing the estate tax will only make permanent what's already happened.

Posted by: CaseyL on June 21, 2006 at 9:23 PM | PERMALINK

As a small timber owner in East Texas, it takes 15 years for a first cut, 20-25 for a second cut, and 40-50 years for a third cut....so the small timber owners gets hammered when we cut timber...we should at least be able to pro-rate the cut! cleve

Posted by: cleve on June 21, 2006 at 11:26 PM | PERMALINK

this is quite something...


Robert Byrd Makes History as Longest-Serving Senator

Posted by: rancid on June 22, 2006 at 12:43 AM | PERMALINK

Folks, you're letting that dishonest jackass Cheney frame the terms of the debate: it's NOT a death tax, and the dead person -- being dead -- isn't paying ANYTHING. The tax is on the heirs -- a transfer tax for America's Paris Hiltons and Brandon Davis's, on the unearned income that they're receiving. Money going from one person/company to another: standard taxation policy since the Year Zero. But apparently the very wealthy suddenly need protection from this standard taxation on income...why, exactly?

Posted by: Calton Bolick on June 22, 2006 at 2:58 AM | PERMALINK

When Paris Hilton gets a windfall of unearned income should she have to pay income tax on it?

The rest of us pay income tax. Why should she be exempt? Why should the richest among us be exempt from income tax? Is it to finance her party-every-single-day lifestyle?

Posted by: Tripp on June 22, 2006 at 10:01 AM | PERMALINK

Folks, you're letting that dishonest jackass Cheney frame the terms of the debate: it's NOT a death tax, and the dead person -- being dead -- isn't paying ANYTHING.

Word. Anyone who uses the term "death tax" is exempted from this debate as unserious.

Of course, we know Charlie/Cheney/Chuckles isn't serious, except for seriously delusional...

Posted by: Gregory on June 22, 2006 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

Charlie/Cheney/Chuckles wrote: so, if I call it an "estate" tax

If you refer to it properly as the "estate tax" or "inheritance tax," you'd simply be eschewing one dishonest rhetorical tactic. As we all know, Charlie, you have many more. But you aren't here for honest debate, so one hardly expects you to change your ways, and pointing out the fact is hardly an "ad hominem".

why so hard to admit that a DEATH is giving rise to this tax?

It isn't hard to admit that at all. But such an admission would not make the term "death tax" for inheritance/estate taxes any less dishonest.

Posted by: Gregory on June 22, 2006 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

P.S. to Tripp - yes, I even trust Paris Hilton to do better things with that money than I do Teddy Kennedy - now, maybe if we had a reasonable flat tax rather than socking the rich on income tax, I could consider a lower rate on some type of death tax.

Well my goodness I didn't know Teddy Kennedy handles all the estate tax revenue.

Silly me, I thought there was some sort of federal budget process. By all means I support taking the federal budget process out of the hands of any single elected official, including Teddy Kennedy.

I mean, you wouldn't be trying to twist and distort things by pretending the tax affects everyone who dies and Teddy Kennedy handles it all would you?

Posted by: Tripp on June 22, 2006 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

Cheney,

I trust ANY beneficiary more than government in general too.

Ah, well I believe there actually are countries without taxes. How are they doing? Why do you think the US would do any better?

Posted by: Tripp on June 22, 2006 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

18 families worth a total of $185.5 billion have financed and coordinated a 10-year effort to repeal the estate tax, a move that would collectively net them a windfall of $71.6 billion. - PUBLIC CITIZEN

seems like alot of trouble to please 18-billionaires...

if they dont like it...

why dont they move..

iraq doesnt have an inherticance tax....

and i hear its a capitalists dream...

those billionaires could pull up their famous bootstraps and get to creating nirvana

Posted by: thisspaceavailable on June 22, 2006 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

"Yes, providing an incentive to a company that has renewable environmental practices..."

Posted by: American Hawk on June 21, 2006 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK"

Please. I used to live in rural Oregon, and once you got beyond the interstates, where the timber companies carefully don't cut to give the illusion that all is well with the forests, it was a moonscape-Clearcuts as far as you could see.

Posted by: CDWard on June 22, 2006 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: agencies on June 23, 2006 at 12:51 AM | PERMALINK

Unfortunatly, With the high cost or value of land these days many farms etc. are being lost all over this nation and are being turned into strip-malls and townhouses due to the current estate tax. As far as the timber industry goes, you guys need to wake up. Lumber companies have already sold millions of acres of timber land to TIMO's (Timberland Investment Management Organizations) who are inturn developing these lands to pay many of your pensions. Atleast the timber industry sustained the forests and replanted them. International Paper sold 5.1m acres of timber land for $6.1 billion to TIMO investor groups. Next on the chopping block is Moosehead Lake in Maine, 421,000 acres owned by Plum Creek Timber to be turned into a lakefront community. The timber companys need the tax breaks or you tree-huggers will have a few less trees to hug.

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