I wish I could better understand Max Baucus’s bizarre statement (PDF) on the estate tax to the Finance Committee today. To his credit, the statement acknowledges that so many of the statements about the estate tax are untrue, even concluding that "99 times out of a hundred, the tale is worse than the tax. Less than one percent of all estates are currently subject to estate tax."
It just doesn’t make any sense. After acknowledging that the right wing talking points about the estate tax are nothing more than myth, how can Baucus support its repeal? The estate tax generates $24 billion annually, a not insignificant amount, but money taxed from the very families that have benefited from a tax policy that has helped generate unprecedented economic inequality in the United States.
Don’t believe me. Ask Warren Buffett, America’s second wealthiest man who understands that dynastic wealth is a danger to the United States:
"Dynastic wealth, the enemy of a meritocracy, is on the rise. Equality of opportunity has been on the decline," Buffett said. "A progressive and meaningful estate tax is needed to curb the movement of a democracy toward plutocracy."
This one is a no-brainer, Senator Baucus. The obscenely wealthy few will do fine without you.