What the rollback of the Estate Tax is costing the American people

I’m not much of a sports fan, but the recent news coverage on George Steinbrenner’s death sent me to the internet looking for the backstory on how he came to be the principal owner of the New York Yankees baseball franchise. (I was curious as to whether or not the team was inherited. It wasn’t. Steinbrenner did, however, make his fortune in a business started by his grandfather.) Anyway, in the process of looking around the internet, I happened across this article on Salon about how, thanks to Bush’s rollback of the estate tax, Steinbrenner’s children would pay no taxes on his $1.15 billion fortune. Here’s a clip:

…This year, for the first time in nearly 100 years, there is no federal estate tax at all. That is great news for the heirs of George Steinbrenner. His estimated net worth at the time of his death earlier this week was $1.15 billion. Last year, Steinbrenner’s heirs would have distributed the healthy sum of $630,000,000 among themselves (not counting possible state taxes). This is the amount their inheritance would have been after federal estate taxes had been levied. As nice as $630,000,000 sounds, it’s nothing compared to what Steinbrenner’s heirs will receive now, since the billionaire Yankees owner chose this year to die. His heirs will now receive $1,150,000,000 (less possible state taxes). This is money that they personally did little or nothing to earn.

At the beginning of 2010, there were about 400 billionaires who were citizens of the United States. Four of those billionaires have died this year. One of them, Dan Duncan, had a net worth of $9.8 billion. The tax on his estate last year would have been $4.4 billion, leaving his heirs the healthy sum of $5.4 billion to share. Since Duncan died this year, however, they will share the entire $9.8 billion. Of course, as oilman Bunker Hunt famously said following his and his brother’s failed attempt to corner the silver market in the early 1980’s, “a billion dollars isn’t what it used to be.” (Bunker Hunt would have known all about the evils of estate taxes, since he inherited his wealth from his father, H.L. Hunt, and he still came out a billionaire.)

Due to the elimination of the estate tax on billionaires this year, the national treasury has received about $6,133,000,000 less from just four estates than it would have received last year. Add to this amount the value of estate taxes on the nation’s millionaires who have passed away this year, and the total would come to between $25,000,000,000 and $30,000,000,000.

This is about 30 times the total 2010 budget for the Small Business Administration. Think about that when you try to get a loan for your next entrepreneurial venture.

It is more than twice the total 2010 budget for the Department of the Interior. Think about that when you see the sad state of repair and lack of ranger services in some of our national parks, forests, and sea shores…

As you know if you read this site, I am very much in favor not just of reinstating the estate tax – the temporary repeal of which Bush and the Republicans sold to the American people by calling it a “death tax” and alluding to non-existent family farms that were being lost – but raising the rate significantly. Not only would doing so help us to balance the federal budget, and provide much needed services to the American people, but, more importantly, it would set up a significant barrier to the creation of an American aristocracy.

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  1. Posted July 17, 2010 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    If the Tea Partiers weren’t just thick-headed racists… if they really cared about balancing the budget and protecting so-called American values… they’d put down their fucking signs about Obama being Hitler, and they’d start lobbying Congress to both immediately reinstate the estate tax and rollback the Bush tax cuts on the super wealthy… And they’d cut military spending.

  2. Posted July 17, 2010 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    And on a similar note, check this out?

  3. Alice
    Posted July 17, 2010 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    If the tea-tards had any idea what was actually going on, and how they were being manipulated, there would be revolution. There would be blood in the streets. How these wealthy corporatists have conned these folks is truly inspiring.

  4. ytown
    Posted July 17, 2010 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    That’s right, take more from the rich and give to the freeloaders! What a bunch of shit. I am not wealthy enough to worry about this at the present. However, why should we take his money to balance a budget that Democrats cannot and will not balance.

  5. ytown
    Posted July 17, 2010 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    Alice, get off you ass, make a bilion dollars and die so you can help this government! Do you part!

  6. ytown
    Posted July 17, 2010 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

    Mark, the tea partiers are racists? How is this something you would know? You aren’t just name-calling are you?

  7. Edward
    Posted July 17, 2010 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    The only Presidents to balance the budget in our lifetimes have been Democrats. Look it up.

  8. Edward
    Posted July 17, 2010 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    Furthermore, the people inheriting this wealth are themselves predominantly freeloaders themselves. They did not create the wealth. Again, you should do your research.

  9. Edward
    Posted July 17, 2010 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    And here’s some racist Tea Party footage to chew on, Ytown.


    I am anxiously awaiting your response.

  10. mSS
    Posted July 17, 2010 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

    As long as Steinbrenner’s kids aren’t using the money to drop guided missiles on Pakistani children, I don’t care, they can have it.

  11. Yankette
    Posted July 17, 2010 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

    I love that the rich get richer, and that all the dumb fucks out there believe that there’s a chance, albeit a sight one, that one day they’ll be in the same boat, forgetting for the moment that their grandfathers didn’t own international corporations.

    Here’s breaking news. You will never be a billionaire. The chances are greater that you’ll be fucked by a polar bear in a top hat, in Kenya.

  12. Edward
    Posted July 17, 2010 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

    What’s that, ytown? I couldn’t hear you.

  13. F Phillips
    Posted July 17, 2010 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

    Breaking news:

    Senators Move To Revive Estate Tax At Reduced Rate

    The federal estate tax would be revived, but at a reduced rate, under a plan being pushed by two senators, a Democrat and a Republican.

    Democrat Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Republican Jon Kyl of Arizona hope to attach the new estate tax to a small business lending bill pending in the Senate. Their bill would set the top estate tax rate at 35 percent, with a per-person exemption of $5 million, indexed to inflation.

    In 2009, the top estate tax rate was 45 percent with a per-person exemption of $3.5 million. Congress allowed the estate tax to expire this year, but it is scheduled to come back next year with a top rate of 55 percent, unless Congress acts.

    The rest of the article:

  14. EOS
    Posted July 18, 2010 at 6:07 am | Permalink

    ‘First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.'” Gandhi


  15. Peter Larson
    Posted July 18, 2010 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    “I love that the rich get richer, and that all the dumb fucks out there believe that there’s a chance, albeit a sight one, that one day they’ll be in the same boat, forgetting for the moment that their grandfathers didn’t own international corporations. ”

    Billionaires got rich through working hard. If we all would just get off our lazy asses, we could all be billionaires.

  16. ytown
    Posted July 18, 2010 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Slow down Edward, I have a life outside of this site. So you found an article on The Huffington Post discussing racism and the tea party, STOP THE PRESSES!!!! You are some kind of investigator! Really? That is all you have? Come on, you can do better.

    Yankette, why do libs seem to fall back on bestiality or anal sex when arguing?

  17. ytown
    Posted July 18, 2010 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    If I read only the Huffington Post too, my head would be mush like the rest of you!

    It is okay to read other sources of news.

  18. Edward
    Posted July 18, 2010 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    I shared video with you of racists at Tea Party rallies, in response to your suggestion that such people did not exist. And your response, if I’m understanding correctly, is to say that it should be disregarded because of where it’s located on the internet. Do I have that right?

    And Yankette didn’t mention anal sex. You must have imagined that. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, I think a lot of Republican men are fixated with the act of gay sex.

  19. Posted July 18, 2010 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    Life is like a shit sandwich. The more bread you have, the less shit you got to eat.

    Billionaires (anyone here know any?) got rich by taking advantage of the deck they stacked by funneling their billions into buying politicians who passed laws that stacked the deck in their favor thus allowing them to get richer. The Estate Tax laws are a prime example.

    Anyone ever hear of the Protestant work ethic? It’s based on the premise that only the most pious deserve to be rich with money. It’s not about working hard, or reaping what you sow, it’s about being more pious than the poor who obviously are that way because they aren’t as pious. If you’re poor you only have yourself to blame, because you don’t believe in god as much as the more pious rich people. The Protestant work ethic still lives today because we believe that poor people are poor because they don’t work hard and are thus less deserving of wealth.

    The USA is like a poker game. You have to ante up to play. If you’re a gambler there’s nothing wrong with that. To play at the high stakes table you need big money. Yes, you can lose big, but the potential to get more big money is greater when you have the dough to play at the high stakes table and survive any loss. The nickel and dime players are forever destined to be small stakes players because all the money is now in fewer hands at the high stakes table.

    The history of the Bush family is the best example of how rich people got richer, not because of their own hard work, but because of their ability to pull the levers of power and keep poor people out of the high stakes game.

  20. Dirtgrain
    Posted July 18, 2010 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    I want to do away with privilege and level the playing field, in order to increase motivation and productivity. We should implement a 100% inheritance tax and pass a law mandating that at the age of eighteen, children must sever financial ties to their parents completely–each child enters the adulthood with equal financial base and equal opportunity.

  21. ytown
    Posted July 18, 2010 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    EDward you ignored my comment regarding the Huffington Post, why?
    Regarding the anal sex comment, I’ll bet you ten bucks you are gay or in the closet because of your reaction to my comment. Why don’t you put anal sex into Mark’s search engine and find out for yourself how many times it has been mentioned.

    Finally Edward, you posted a link to the Huffington Post. The drugs erasing your short term memory?

  22. Meta
    Posted July 18, 2010 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    As you seem incapable of acknowledging information from the Huffington Post, here’s something from the Center for American Progress.

    Racism In The Tea Parties
    In passing a resolution condemning the racist elements within the Tea Party this week, the NAACP set off a media firestorm over the merits of its charge against the right-wing movement. As the Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates notes, critics bemoaned the resolution as a silly stunt that “heightened division” and implied that racist extremists define the membership of the Tea Party. Such a wholesale charge would certainly be exaggerated and inaccurate, but that was not the charge the NAACP made. “The resolution was amended during the debate to specifically ask the Tea Party itself to repudiate the racist elements and activities of the Tea Party.” As NAACP President and CEO Ben Jealous said, “We’re simply asking them to repudiate racist acts and bigotry in their ranks or accept responsibility.” But instead of acknowledging and disassociating themselves from the more radical actions of their membership, Tea Party leaders have said that racist elements are non existent. In hurling accusations of racism back at the NAACP, Tea Party leaders have wielded a professed desire for colorblindness as a whitewashing tool. But Tea Party members are employing a defense that only perpetuates the racism they are desperately trying to refute.

    YES, THERE IS RACISM: Galled by the NAACP’s shot across the bow, Tea Party leaders and sympathizers immediately dismissed the charge of racism in the movement as unrepresentative or unfounded. Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin sounded off on Facebook this week, decrying the racism accusation as a “false” and “appalling” insult of which the “patriots of the tea party movement are truly undeserving.” Conservative Bishop E.W. Jackson shrugged off the displays of racist tendencies, claiming “people will sometimes say things.” He insisted that “the idea that the tea party movement is racist or that it has racist elements that need to be denounced is a nonsensical statement.” At this point, the overwhelming evidence of such “radical elements” is enough to discredit any outright dismissal of the NAACP’s claim. The North Iowa Tea Party recently launched a billboard that equates President Obama with flagrant racist Adolf Hitler. In April, Tea Party member and New York GOP gubernatorial hopeful Carl Paladino forwarded “racially degrading material” in emails, one of which was posted at the Neo-Nazi Stormfront website. Ironically, the clearest example of endorsed racism was offered by the Tea Party Express chairman and spokesperson Mark Williams. While contending that it’s the NAACP that is “bigoted,” Williams has made outright bigoted comments, referring to Allah as the “terrorists’ monkey God,” to a Jewish developer as a “Jewish Uncle Tom,” and to Muslims as “semi-human, bipedal primates with no claim to be treated like humans.” In responding to the NAACP’s charge, he accused the group of being “professional race baiters” who “make more money than any slave trader ever.”

    THE PURPOSE: The passage of the resolution sparked a deep debate over the NAACP’s intentions. Critics quickly decried the resolution as a blanket indictment of all Tea Party members as racist. Conservative African-American activist and GOP nominee for Congress in South Carolina Tim Scott viewed the resolution as “a grave mistake in stereotyping a diverse group of Americans.” Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele saw the resolution as “destructive” and an effort to say “the Tea Party movement is racist.” But as the Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne Jr. pointed out, nothing the NAACP put forward supports that idea. “Its contention is that there are clearly racist strains in the Tea Party and that the movement’s leaders and the politicians who profit from its activism should denounce them plainly and unequivocally,” he said. Jealous clearly delineated the intention in Kansas City, calling on the Tea Party to “expel the bigots and racists in your ranks or take the responsibility for them and their actions.” In his explanation to Dionne, Jealous said that “we have never called the Tea Party racist. We know there are black Tea Party members.” The essential point of the resolution was not to erroneously paint Tea Party members as wholesale racists but rather to demand they disassociate with the radicals in their ranks.

    HIDING BEHIND COLORBLIND: Despite the evidence to the contrary, Tea Party activists remain aghast at the racism charge and position themselves as the victims of unwarranted accusations. As Coates notes, this “frame-flipping” is a “respectable, more sensible bigotry” that allows practitioners to “change the subject and strawman.” A common talking point, salient in the right-wing treatment of race, is a colorblind philosophy that purports race, not racism, is the major problem. References to Martin Luther King, Jr. — particularly the notion that one should be judged not by the color of his skin but the content of his character — are favored among colorblind adherents to dismiss the raising of any race issue as divisive. Indeed, Tea Party leaders employed it in their defense against the NAACP in a Politico op-ed this week, stating, “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would be proud of this movement. He dreamed of a colorblind society. The tea party is a truly post-racial movement.” King’s notion of colorblindness, however, was not to say “race shouldn’t and doesn’t matter” but to convey “what would happen after we as a nation stopped creating disparate outcomes based on race and class.” But instead of being upheld as that ideal, the “colorblind racist philosophy” ignores or perpetuates race-based inequality. As blogger Jamelle Bouie points out with the Jim Crow laws and the recent Arizona anti-immigration law, “colorblind mechanisms” are used to craft laws that target minority groups without the explicit mention of race. In other words, if a law doesn’t mention race, it isn’t racist; if it does, then it is, “even if it’s designed to ameliorate racial prejudice.” This philosophy also labels anyone who raises race issues as “race baiters” and allows racists “to project their racism onto the minority figures.” This is how Tea Party leaders like Mark Williams and David Webb so easily turn the racism charge on the NAACP. Ironically, as is in the case with the Tea Party, by using colorblindness to gloss over charges of racial rhetoric, adherents willingly undermine any effort to achieve the principle they tout.

  23. Kim
    Posted July 18, 2010 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    Another racist photo compilation taken from American Tea Party events for Ytown to deny.


  24. Peter Larson
    Posted July 18, 2010 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    Until he sees it on Fox News, he will never acknowledge it. You should know better.

  25. Posted July 18, 2010 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    There can and will never be a rational discussion of racism and prejudice until ALL of us, every single one of us, admits that we are prejudiced and hold or have held racist thoughts.

    That said, I am racist, and have prejudged people according to the color of their skin, their religion, their social status, where they live and with whom they associate. I work hard to overcome my shortcomings and realize that I have a long way to go to accept people for who they are rather than for the labels that we all affix to them.

  26. Posted July 18, 2010 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    “Your national greatness, swelling vanity; your denunciation of tyrants, brass-fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages.”

    Frederick Douglass

  27. Andy C
    Posted July 18, 2010 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

    Mark link hit it on the nose. Fuckin’ freeloaders should move to Malaysia if they want a jobs. The best thing a person can do these days is go to jail. Free room and board at the tax payers expense. All this only proves there is definitely no God.

    Is it strange that I always assume the right wingers on this blog are female?

  28. Voodoo Doll
    Posted July 19, 2010 at 2:48 am | Permalink

    Peter, did you see recently that Malawi is ranked #1 in happiness in Africa?
    Do they have an estate tax? I wonder.
    I think we should just sterilize all freeloaders so that whatever they have at the end of their lives will revert completely to the federal governmnet due to lack of heirs. Then, the federal government can give the money to other sterilized freeloaders so that they will die with no heirs and lots of money and……
    Oh, wait.
    Shit. I will try again later.

  29. Peter Larson
    Posted July 19, 2010 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    We need an American aristocracy. If we don’t have one, what will poor people have to look up to?

  30. Peter Larson
    Posted July 19, 2010 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    I have not seen the rankings, but I would assume that Malawi would be in at least the top 47 of Sub-Saharan African countries.

  31. Knox
    Posted July 19, 2010 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    We had the inheritance tax for the last 100 years. It’s an American institution. We had it under Reagan. To be against it is un-American.

  32. Kim
    Posted July 19, 2010 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    To repeal the estate tax is to slap Reagan in the face.

  33. Peter Larson
    Posted July 19, 2010 at 5:20 pm | Permalink


  34. Voodoo Doll
    Posted July 19, 2010 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

    Apparently the Malawians are slightly happier than the Canadians and the Norwegians, but not quite as happy as the Costa Ricans or the Dutch.
    Don’t be bitter, Peter. Be happy, too.
    It is a Gallup poll. I will look for the link. It seems interesting.

  35. Voodoo Doll
    Posted July 19, 2010 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

    I can’t get to the entire list of happy countries. I guess you need a subscription to Forbes, but Malawi is aparently way down the list, and Costa Rica is sixth in the world and Brazil is very high. Men who have ever seen Brazilian and Costa Rican women would understand the happiness.
    As for USA, we are pretty high. That is surprising to me. Americans really hate each other. In that we are almost as bad as the Indians.
    Swedes, Norwegians, are very high on list but also rather boring people. Simple pleasures, I suppose.

  36. Kim
    Posted July 20, 2010 at 1:07 am | Permalink

    Their kids would probably waste it on drugs anyway.

    The Estate Tax Saves Lives.

  37. Peter Larson
    Posted July 20, 2010 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    I’m not bitter. I merely mentioned that they would be in the top 47 of all countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

    Still, I would say that the Malawians are, in my experience, much happier than Americans.

  38. Arnie
    Posted July 20, 2010 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    Their families can keep the money. I just want them dead.

  39. Posted July 22, 2010 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    Alright, rightwingers in Ypsi. I’m going to make a proposal:

    When we (the Left, the ones who actually have enough compassion to see imperialism, white supremacy, patriarchy, capitalism, and authoritarianism as in need of humane alternatives) start to organize neighborhood councils to grapple with the problems we face, you’re invited to share your opinions respectfully IN PERSON. It’s a challenge, I know, but if you’re confident in your hateful opinions, you will not be afraid to face the “freeloaders” you so despise.

    See you soon.

  40. Mik
    Posted August 5, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    People don’t talk about the rollback of the estate tax anymore. I guess the Bush tax cuts kind of knocked them off the front page.

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