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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Fife and Drum Music

I’m posting from a vacation spot on Daufuskie Island, South Cackalacki after an immensely complicated trip involving cabs, planes, cars, ferries, and golf carts, not to mention a major crisis involving internet access. But it’s nice to be here, on an island still partly populated by Gullahs, who are, I hope, benefitting in some ways from the upscale honky development of recent decades. Being an American, as opposed to a vacation-entitled European, I’m still slavishly reading the news sites, and intend to blog more often than the day job has allowed recently. And the first cookie on the plate I sampled after getting in late today was an important article in the New York Times that helps demolish the myth that the “death tax” is a threat to family farms. Check it out:”The number of farms on which estate tax is owed when the owners die has fallen by 82 percent since 2000, to just 300 farms, as Congress has more than doubled the threshold at which the tax applies, the Congressional Budget Office said in a report released last week.”You wouldn’t know that from the GOP’s drive to entirely abolish the federal estate tax, which has already passed the House and is pending in the Senate. Much of the propaganda supporting the Total Repeal idea, of course, revolves around bogus Family Farm nostalgia. Every time a GOP politician mounts a soapbox to rail about the Death Tax, it’s like those scenes from Green Acres when (the recently deceased) Eddie Albert would rhaposidize about Our Agrarian Heritage while fife and drum music played in the backround, as his listeners invariably noticed. As David Cay Johnston’s report in the Times notes, the true beneficiaries of a total estate tax repeal are not terribly likely to have dirtied their hands farming, or even ordering farm hands around, at least in the last couple of generations. So we should look coldly and rationally, not warmly and nostalgically, when we consider the prospect of abolishing taxes on billionaires and shifting the national tax burden even further towards people who earn an income from their own work, rather than the work of their ancestors.

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