July 21, 2006

Bush Stumps Against the Estate Tax

Yesterday President Bush spoke at the NAACP's annual convention, and slipped in a plug for current Republican efforts to permanently repeal the federal estate tax. Turns out that Bush and his pal Robert Johnson (founder of the Black Entertainment Television network) really see eye to eye on this issue:
He believes strongly, for example, that the death tax will prevent future African American entrepreneurs from being able to pass their assets from one generation to the next. He and I also understand that the investor class shouldn't be just confined to the old definition of the investor class.
It's no mystery that a billionaire like Johnson would get grumpy about coughing up any of his fortune--or that he would resort to specious arguments to prove his point. As Michael Kinsley pointed out years ago, Johnson has repeatedly expressed his shock at the "double taxation" inherent in the estate tax despite the fact that much of his net worth has never been taxed-- so Johnson is clearly not gonna let the facts get in a way of a good argument. But it still irritates to hear the guy asserting that the estate tax is punishing "African American entrepreneurs" when he really just means "Bob Johnson."

Of course, he could well actually "believe" that the BET empire will be broken up to pay his estate tax someday. And that's a big part of the problem. Thanks to years of disinformation from the anti-estate tax crowd, the distinction between what people believe about the estate tax and what the truth is, is pretty huge. But Bush at least should know the difference, if only because he should have policy folks there to explain all this to him.

Full text of Bush's speech is on the White House's website here.


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