Saturday, September 3, 2005
In what may be the most bizarre tax policy argument of my lifetime, Grover Norquist is using Hurricane Katrina to argue that the Senate should vote next week to repeal the estate tax. From his memo yesterday (Death Tax Repeal/Katrina):
The 2003 tax cut lifted economic growth far beyond what most people expected. We know repeal of the Death Tax will also have a similar effect. And higher levels of economic growth is exactly what the residents of the Gulf Region need at this time to start the rebuilding process for their neighborhoods and more importantly for their lives.
Update #1: Stuart Levine is even more biting in describing Norquist's memo: "[T]hese people are of a piece with, say, the Jim Jones Kool-Aid drinkers...Of course, even Norquist didn't have the balls to articulate it as "A rising tide raises all ships.")
Update #2: The L.A. Times gets the politics right on the effect of Katrina on estate tax repeal efforts:
The disaster in the Gulf Coast changes the political dynamic on other big issues before Congress. For example, images of stranded hurricane victims in squalid shelters give Democrats ammunition against GOP plans to hold a vote next week on repealing the estate tax, a measure critics say benefits only the wealthiest taxpayers. That vote had been scheduled before Congress began its monthlong August recess. In a letter Thursday, [Democratic Senate Leader Harry] Reid urged GOP leaders to postpone the issue. "Given the tragic and devastating events along the Gulf Coast, members of the Senate would have great difficulty explaining why we were debating the estate tax during our first days back," Reid said in his missive to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.
Stuart Levine agrees that "the estate tax repeal is dead because suddenly Americans have suddenly awoken to the reality that government and taxes are necessary and that there's no free lunch."