June 23, 2003
Goodbye, Death Tax. Hello, Birth Tax!
by The Angry Liberal
We've all heard republicans whine about the estate tax. According to republicans, it isn't fair that people who are handed millions of dollars for the grand accomplishment of being born into a rich family should have to forego a single penny of this unearned income via taxation. After many tormented, sleepless nights, republicans in the House of Representatives decided to put an end to this unspeakable crime. They drummed up support for its repeal by giving the estate tax a fictitious nickname, the "death tax." Calling the estate tax the "death tax" is, of course, lying. All Americans die for free, and less than 2% die with estates that are taxed at all. Be this as it may, republicans decided to call this tax something really sinister sounding because nobody would support the repeal of the "Last Chance To Tax the Fattest of America's Fat Cats Before They Hand Over Enormous Piles of Cash to Their Lazy, Undeserving Children" Tax. And before you could say "campaign contribution kickback," the House of Representatives decided that those least deserving of a tax cut should have this unearned income handed over tax-free.
But now that billionaire heirs are giving the tax man the finger (if the House has its way), what do we do about the big hole in the budget that the estate tax used to fill? Cut programs? No way. Showing Americans the real budgetary priorities of the republican party would see it swept from Washington faster than Governor Bush could review a Texas death penalty case. Enter the second part of the republican tax scam: Instead of cutting programs to pay for this ridiculous tax cut, republicans simply decided to steal the money from the Social Security trust fund and borrow the rest to fill the shortfall.
But won't somebody have to pay interest on this huge pile of debt that republicans are racking up from all of this borrowing? Duh! And who do you think will pay it back? That's right, it will be you and me, our children, and their children. Every working American who has the misfortune to be born poor or middle class will enter the world owing the tax money that republicans are refusing to collect from the "Death Tax." Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the truly republican tax: The Birth Tax.
The Birth Tax is the interest paid on an enormous debt that republicans will create when they decide not to collect the estate tax anymore. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the cost to the rest of us taxpayers for the elimination of the estate tax will be $294 billion over the next 10 years or so. At around 5% servicing costs per year, that means that after 10 years of borrowing money to offset the estate tax cut, those Americans who still pay taxes will see a permanent $14.7 billion annual increase in their tax bill. Of course, that bill will increase the next year. And the year after that. The Birth Tax will continue to grow as long as the government borrows money every year to offset the elimination of the estate tax.
Here is a fun comparison of the "Death Tax" with the Birth Tax:
1. While the "Death Tax" was paid from less than 2% of the of the richest estates, the "Birth Tax" will be paid by everybody who pays federal taxes, including those who are so poor that they pay only Social Security taxes.
2. While the "Death Tax" was only collected after rich folks were completely finished with the estates (They're dead, remember?), the Birth Tax will paid by the living, most of whom aren't finished with their incomes.
3. While the "Death Tax" generally reduced the amount an estate would hand to an heir (in other words, the heir's unearned income), the Birth Tax reduces the amount of earned income a hard-working American will keep.
4. While the "Death Tax" went into the general fund to pay for things like health care for the elderly and homeland security, the Birth Tax will buy absolutely nothing.
5. While the "Death Tax" was paid only once, the Birth Tax will be paid yearly and will likely increase yearly, forever.
6. While the "Death Tax" is traced back to Thomas Paine, a REAL American patriot, the Birth Tax is given to us by pretend patriots, who proclaim that their love of America does not extend to funding America with their tax money.
If the republicans in the House have their way, we employed Americans will soon be enjoying our new Birth Tax. And we'll really enjoy knowing that this tax used to be paid by the very richest of estates after their former owners were finished with them, and that republicans decided to shift that burden to the rest of us instead.
The moral of the story: Republicans value rich guys, even dead ones, above all other Americans.
otherwise noted, all original