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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Wealthy Families Behind Estate Tax Repeal

Public Citizen and United for a Fair Economy released a report today claiming that the 10-year effort to repeal the estate tax has been financed and coordinated by just 18 families: 

  • Allyn-Soderberg Family (Welch Allyn Inc.)
  • Blethen Family (Seattle Times Co.)
  • Cox Family (Cox Enterprises, Inc.)
  • DeVos and Van Andel Families (Alticor/Amway)
  • Dorrance Family (Campbell Soup Company)
  • Gallo (E&J Gallo Winery)
  • Harbert Family
  • Johnson Family (BET, RLJ Development Co.)
  • Koch Family (Koch Industries)
  • Mars Family (Mars Inc.)
  • Mayer Family (Captiva Resources)
  • Nordstrom Family (Nordstrom Inc.)
  • Sobrato Family (Sobrato Development)
  • Stephens Family (Stephens Inc.)
  • Timken Family (The Timken Company)
  • Walton Family (Wal-Mart)
  • Wegman Family (Wegmans Food Markets, Inc.)

Report:  Spending Millions to Save Billions: The Campaign of the Super Wealthy to Kill the Estate Tax:

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2006/04/wealthy_familie.html

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Comments

So What? Or is the thesis that only wealthy liberals like Soros and Peter Lewis are allowed to participate in politics in the United States.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz | Apr 25, 2006 10:00:17 PM

Re: the "So What?" question raised by
Messr. Schwartz.

The conclusion of the report is that an
extremely small group of individuals is
entirely behind a legislative effort that
purports to represent the interests of
the masses. This should trouble anyone,
even the apologists for robber barons.
Soros and Lewis have unequal access to
the press, certainly, but so far have not
leveraged their wealth to force
legislative changes. This distinction
should be obvious, even to those who
straw-man one-liners in a blog.

Must we now inquire who funds the work and
interests of Robert Schwartz? Or is there
a better explanation for his indifference?

Posted by: Amos B. Haven | Apr 29, 2006 6:35:57 PM

Its still a so what. Soros and Lewis have backed losers, these guys backed a winner. If Soros and Lewis have the right to use their money to push their agenda, then so do the folks named as funding the death tax repeal campaign.

"Must we now inquire who funds the work and interests of Robert Schwartz?

Mine.

"Or is there a better explanation for his indifference?"

Yes. I am smarter than you are.

You were asking for that, weren't you?

Posted by: Robert Schwartz | Apr 29, 2006 9:29:11 PM

Indifference? I believe Mr. Schwartz asked a serious and important question. Is it really news that 17 of the wealthiest families in America and the Wegmans (as to whom the report admits it hasn't a clue of their net worth) are the ones who can afford to mount such a lobbying effort? Where does the report indicate the amount of money spent by other billionaires (such as Soros, Ted Turner, and the Gates family) in lobbying for retention of the estate tax? Or is that unimportant simply because it's been ineffective?

The report is correct about the disingenuous nature of the repeal campaign, but its attempt to paint the lobbying effort as a full blown secret conspiracy to defraud the American public obscures that valid point and makes its authors look silly.

Posted by: Lynn B. | Apr 30, 2006 9:26:58 AM

"The conclusion of the report is that an extremely small group of individuals is entirely behind a legislative effort that purports to represent the interests of the masses."

This is probably true of all legislative campaigns.

"This should trouble anyone, even the apologists for robber barons."

Not devotees of free speech.

"Soros and Lewis have unequal access to the press, certainly, but so far have not leveraged their wealth to force legislative changes."

Actually Soros spent a lot of money in Ohio a few years ago to get a ballot measure on Drug Crimes passed. It failed. Maybe money cannot "force" legislative changes.

"This distinction should be obvious, even to those who straw-man one-liners in a blog."

What distinction? Between winners and losers? Or is the appropriatness of political action measured solely by the extent to which you approve of the ends.

"Must we now inquire who funds the work and interests of Robert Schwartz?"

For all you know I am a dog who posts from a public library. Of course, the same could be true of you.

"Or is there a better explanation for his indifference?"

His devotion to the first amendment and the principles of political science laid out by Madison, Hamilton and Jay in the Federalist.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz | May 3, 2006 10:14:38 PM

Actually, I had started out to post that this thread had made the NYTimes last Saturday.


April 29, 2006 | What's Online | Maybe the Heirs Aren't Apparent | By DAN MITCHELL
:

THE watchdog group Public Citizen (citizen.org) and the advocacy group United for a Fair Economy (faireconomy.org) issued a report this week saying that 18 superwealthy families are largely responsible for financing the lobbying campaign aimed at repealing the estate tax; the Senate is scheduled to take up repeal next month.

The families, worth $185.5 billion, have financed and coordinated the campaign and have, until now, managed to hide their participation behind the trade associations and business groups they have formed to represent their interests, Public Citizen reported. The families include those behind some of the nation's biggest and best-known companies, like Wal-Mart, E.& J. Gallo Winery, Nordstrom and Koch Industries.

In a news release presenting the 58-page report, available on its Web site, Public Citizen pulls no punches. "This report exposes one of the biggest con jobs in recent history," Joan Claybrook, president of Public Citizen, said in the release. "This long-running, secretive campaign funded by some of the country's wealthiest families has relied on deception to bamboozle the public not only about who must pay the estate tax, but about how repealing it will affect the country."

Several liberal blogs played the report like a snare drum. A Daily Kos blogger, Chris Kromm, thinks it is just the kind of issue that liberal politicians should use to appeal to Middle America. "This is a perfect issue for Southern progressives," he writes. "Half of the superrich families are based in or have close ties to the South."

Conservative bloggers have largely ignored the report ā€” according to search results on technorati.com ā€” though opponents of the estate tax have offered retorts in the comments sections of several blogs. "So what?" asks someone on the TaxProf Blog. "Or is the thesis that only wealthy liberals like Soros and Peter Lewis are allowed to participate in politics in the United States?"

Posted by: Robert Schwartz | May 3, 2006 10:19:34 PM