Much Ado About Taxes, Conservatives, and the Wealthy

Tax Day. Fox News is flogging Astroturf "tea parties" underwritten by corporate lobbyists, while its pundits warn that raising the top income tax rate to the level it was under Bill Clinton constitutes "socialism." The Wall Street Journal editorializes about the evils of the estate tax. Ari Fleischer, Daddy Bush's old flack, is trotted out to complain that "redistribution of income" through the tax code "is getting out of hand."


Really? Here's the grim reality. Since 1980, when the conservative era began, inequality has reached Gilded Age extremes - while top end tax rates have been cut. The wealthiest few captured ever more of the nation's income while successfully lowering their tax rates.

And worse - this is still going on. This month, every Republican Senator - joined bizarrely by 10 Democrats - pushed for yet another tax break for the super-rich - those with fortunes over $7 million. Apparently worried that the heirs of the Paris Hilton class might not be able to keep the yacht clubs humming, Republican Senators voted in lockstep to direct the Congress to raise the full exemption of estates from $7 to $10 million per couple, and drop the top rate from 45% to 35%. Over a decade when fully in effect, this represents a bauble worth about $90 billion to the 1 in 400 estates (one-fourth of one percent) that reach that level.

Fleischer would suggest this is a small, but inadequate step to curb the confiscatory redistribution of the tax code. But he's peddling bull.

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