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Posts Tagged ‘Estate Tax’

Crooks and Liars

February 05, 2012 07:00 AM

By-  Jon Perr

Federal Election Commission filings released this week showed that conservatives groups are amassing an ocean of cash for the 2012 presidential campaign.  Thanks to the likes of the Koch brothers, the Walton clan and other of the usual suspects on the right, in 2011 conservative SuperPAC’s outraised their liberal counterparts by more than seven to one.  But if they win, rich Republican donors could more than get back the millions they invested.  As it turns, just one law they are trying to buy – the elimination of the estate tax – could put billions of dollars back into their families’ bank accounts.  Of course, that gaping hole would have to be filled by all other American taxpayers.

As Mother Jones reported, as of December 31, 2011 conservative SuperPAC’s reaped $60 million of now-unlimited contributions, compared to just $8 million for liberal groups.  That tidal wave of corporate cash and play money from the wealthy has filled the coffers of Karl Rove’s American Crossroads, Mitt Romney’s Restore the Future, Newt Gingrich’s Winning the Future and a litany of other right-wing SuperPACs.  And as Amanda Terkel detailed, at a secret conclave last week, the Koch brothers pledged to raise much more to defeat President Obama:

At a private three-day retreat in California last weekend, conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch and about 250 to 300 other individuals pledged approximately $100 million to defeat President Obama in the 2012 elections.

A source who was in the room when the pledges were made told The Huffington Post that, specifically, Charles Koch pledged $40 million and David pledged $20 million.

But that figure is chump change compared to the eye-popping return on investment the Kochs can expect if their side wins in November.  Ending the estate tax, a policy endorsed by Mitt Romney and every other Republican presidential candidate, would literally be worth billions of dollars to the heirs of Charles and David Koch.  As ThinkProgress explained last year:

According to a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation, the Koch brothers’ heirs’ would save a combined $17.4 billion in estate taxes thanks to Romney’s plan.

Each of the Koch brothers — Charles and David — is worth about $25 billion. They are each married, so they would receive an exemption on the first $10 million that they pass down, and then theirs heirs would pay a 35 percent tax, or $8.7 billion, on the rest of their vast fortunes.

Now, this is an exceedingly rough calculation, as it’s almost certain that the Koch’s have engaged in extensive estate planning and would pay nowhere near that amount. But 35 percent is the rate on the books, and Romney’s plan to eliminate the estate tax entirely would undeniably save the Kochs a boatload of money.

Here’s why.  Despite Republican mythology about family farms and businesses being lost to the so-called “death tax,” by 2009 only 0.24 percent of estates even paid the levy. And that was before the December 2010 compromise President Obama inked with Congressional Republicans extending the Bush tax cuts further slashed the estate tax. The reduced 35 percent tax is now applied only to couples with estates greater than $10 million, a change which will cost Uncle Sam roughly $15 billion a year. Now, the Tax Policy Center calculated, only 0.1 percent of estates are impacted. Only 50 family farms and small businesses will be affected, and they contribute “less than one tenth of 1 percent point of the total revenue the tax will collect.” Who pays the estate tax?

TPC estimates that 8,600 individuals dying in 2011 will leave estates large enough to require filing an estate tax return (estates with a gross value under $5 million need not file a return in 2011). After allowing for deductions and credits, an estimated 3,270 estates will owe tax. Roughly 90 percent of these taxable estates will come from the top ten percent of income earners and nearly half will come from the top one percent alone./em>

Estate tax liability will total an estimated $10.6 billion in 2011. The top ten percent of income earners will pay 98 percent of this total. The richest 1 in 1,000 will pay $5.4 billion or 51 percent of the total.

Among that richest 1 in 1,000 are the Koch brothers and the family behind Walmart, the Walton clan.

MORE HERE

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Bill Maher On BP Oil Spill: ‘I Feel Oily … I Feel Their Sh*t On Me’ (VIDEO)

Huff Post- First Posted: 06-12-10 01:06 AM   |   Updated: 06-12-10 09:09 AM

Friday marked Bill Maher’s last show of the season, and while the BP oil spill has been a subject on “Real Time” from week to week, this time Maher defined it as the subject.

“I have been holding my nose about this oil issue. Every week, I do not want to talk about it and we do. But you know, this is the last show of the season, my last time to vent, so I kind of had a change of heart this week, and this whole show might just be about how much oil sucks,” he said at the opening of the show’s panel segment. “And I feel oily. Now that those pictures come in of the wildlife, I feel dir– I feel their shit on me. I feel like someone from Greenpeace should scrub me down every night.”

Rachel Maddow, Newsweek editor Jon Meacham and former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) joined Maher on the panel, and when he asked what would have to happen for the gulf catastrophe to have some meaning, all three turned to the obvious answer — a major step forward on a comprehensive alternative-energy policy.

“We’re trying to drill all of our oil, or a huge proportion of our oil, from the place where we get all our shrimp and oysters. And that’s awkward, it turns out,” Maddow quipped.

Maher let loose on a host of villains-of-the-week during the segment, laughing at Blanche Lincoln’s claim that her vote was “not for sale” and calling the Houston oilman, lifelong game hunter and recent estate-tax dodger Dan Duncan a “world-class asshole.” But the panel zeroed in on the Senate filibuster as the reason why President Obama, in Maher’s words, “had to lie, basically.”

“I saw this week that Lindsey Graham is pulled out of the global warming bill, and the whole reason Obama was coming out in favor of more drilling was as a sop to the conservatives. To try to get Lindsey Graham on his side, somebody like that, to get a couple of Republican vote, which would not be necessary if we did not have this filibuster nonsense, if you didn’t need 60 votes to pass anything. That’s why this president said something. That’s why he had to lie, basically. And the lie was, drilling has never been safer. And we know for a fact, actually, drilling has never been more dangerous. Not just this spill, but before this spill.”

Frist employed several less-than-coherent defenses of Senate procedure and minority rights (most notably: “In the Senate, you can do anything that can’t be done”), but Maddow laid the blame at his party’s door for paralyzing Congress by procedural means. “And Republicans should have to answer for that,” she said, “because it’s a really stupid way to run the country.”

Later on, Maher targeted the political canard of “running a state like a business,” which he and Maddow pointed out can be foolish given the cross-purposes of government and private enterprise. And Arizona won the final showdown in Maher’s “Stupidest State” contest, edging out Texas to receive a trophy of a man with his head up his ass. Maher claimed he’d send the trophy to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer.

WATCH VIDEO HERE

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