The 18 wealthy families that hid behind trade associations and lobbyists to make their pitch to eliminate the estate tax lost today in the Senate. The stealthy group included Michigan's own DeVos and Van Andel families who lobbied on the estate tax 8 times since 1998. [.pdf file, page 19]
Collectively, according to Public Citizen and United for a Fair Economy, the 18 families spent more than $500 million in lobbying expenses and advertising.
Thankfully, common sense and decency prevailed today. Sixty votes were required to end debate on the bill and prevent a filibuster, but the measure got only 57. Wealthy Americans already received massive tax cuts under Bush, and our deficit is huge, so slashing the estate tax would have been irresponsible.
William H. Gates Sr. has been an outspoken critic of efforts to eliminate the estate tax, which he believes works in a modest way to keep the wealth gap from growing even wider. More importantly, Gates points out this simple fact - wealth is power - and "Democracy is at risk when the rich can basically buy public policy."
It was a narrow victory, but Democracy prevailed today when the Senate voted in the interests of the majority of people in this country (for a change) and NOT the 18 super-wealthy families with deep pockets. However, don't expect the super-rich to put away their checkbooks just yet. Sen. Majority Leader Bill Frist indicated he plans to try again later this year, showing once again that issues important to the wealthy take priorty over everything and everyone else in our country.
Wealthy Families’ Campaign to Repeal Estate Tax is Big Con Job
Estate-tax repeal: a morality play
Spending Millions to Save Billions [.pdf file]
Estate Tax Pyramid Scheme
Awwww, Poor Millionaires. No Estate Tax Repeal This Time