Despite the ever-widening income gap in America with the poor and middle class losing wealth to the richest Americans in the top one percent of income earners, Republicans still are on a crusade to hand more riches to the already uber-wealthy. This week, Speaker of the House John Boehner will hold a vote to repeal the “Estate Tax” and give the very richest of the rich another government handout at the expense of the rest of the population.
According to the Internal Revenue Service, “The Estate Tax is a tax on your right to transfer property at your death” to your heirs. As it stands now, no-one pays ‘Estate Tax” on any inherited estate unless it exceeds $5.4 million that affects the top 0.2 percent (two-tenths) of households in America. Everyone else, including the top 1 percent, pays no estate tax for inherited wealth up to $5.4 million. It is what gives the wealthiest families in America the ability to stay wealthy and become more powerful from generation to generation all while paying nothing for newfound wealth. Republicans want to completely eliminate the Estate Tax to unburden the richest 0.2% of households that include the likes of Romney and Kochs of America.
If one listens to, or believes, Republicans this country just has not been as generous to the wealthy as it has the overwhelming majority of Americans either wallowing in poverty and low wages or struggling to remain in a rapidly vanishing middle class. It is worth noting that the median income in America is below $50,000 and those families not only have little if anything to pass on to their heirs, they will likely struggle to survive right up until the day they die. Still, Republicans complain bitterly that the majority of Americans are sucking money from the government and the wealthy that should be given to the beleaguered and struggling ‘job creator‘ class.
The only problem with that assertion is that the wealthy are major recipients of government welfare most Americans are unaware of. If Republicans can eliminate the estate tax, super-wealthy families will be able to hoard, and increase, their wealth in perpetuity and become ever wealthier from other forms of government welfare Republicans refuse to subject to “reform” revealing the lack of morals they are known for around the world.
It is true that no-one in their right mind would ever accuse any Republican of having any morals, and in no small part it is due to demands Republicans make on the working poor and poverty class in order to receive government aid they need to survive like food and healthcare assistance; demands and requirements Republicans would never consider making on their wealthy recipients. Republicans have never subjected farmers receiving agriculture subsidies, oil companies receiving billions in subsidies, churches getting hundreds-of-billions in subsidies, or Pell Grant recipients getting free tuition assistance to any of the limitations or demeaning requirements they are putting on poor Americans for something as necessary as food stamps.
Further, wealthy and upper middle-class families profit handsomely from mortgage interest deductions on not just one large home, but often two, and they are never required to take a drug test, prove they are not using their homes for entertainment, manufacturing methamphetamine, growing marijuana, or letting family members pay rent under the table. Yet, Republicans in states are frantically attaching stringent requirements to receive government aid on the poor, most of whom work low-paying jobs and the elderly and disabled Americans; including active duty military personnel and recent Afghanistan and Iraq combat Veterans.
Most Teabaggers and Republicans bemoan federal assistance to the least advantaged among us but never complain about hundreds-of-billions of taxpayer-funded corporate, uber-wealthy, agricultural, or religious welfare because they do not see the free handouts to those who do not need it. Political scientist Suzanne Mettler labels it the “submerged state” effect. Aid such as Food stamps, healthcare assistance, welfare, and to a lesser degree Social Security and Medicare are highly visible benefits the barbaric Republicans, especially religious Republicans, believe should be eradicated to make room for more free welfare for the rich, corporate agriculture, the oil industry, and religion. The double mortgage interest deduction, billions in subsidies, and high-income earners’ tuition deductions are invisible, or “submerged” away from the public’s gaze. However, it is still free government welfare for those who already have, and take, enough from the government. The welfare for the rich, corporations, and churches are handed out “in round-about ways” through smaller or non-existing tax bills, unwarranted tax refunds, and payments the better-off do not have to make for Medicare, Social Security, or are allowed to deduct expenses the poor cannot afford.
As Mettler’s research reveals, a very high percentage of Americans who think they get nothing from the government and complain the poor are draining “their” resources actually benefit more from any number of federal programs than the working poor and those in dire poverty including children, the elderly and disabled, and Veterans. Republicans are well-aware of the welfare for the rich and religious and as a distraction they consistently incite righteous indignation from their wealthy donors and anti-government supporters who also rely on government welfare and want whatever those who need it most might receive out of sheer greed and ignorance.
As just one example of government aid the wealthy receive regular Americans cannot is the mortgage interest deduction for big houses and second homes that benefit 5-million Americans making over $200,000 annually. Those deductions alone amount to more housing aid than the over 20-million Americans living on less than $20,000 a year receive from the federal government; under $20,000 for a family is considered dire poverty. Because Republicans will not eliminate or limit deductions for the wealthy (over $200K is wealthy) they are incited to buy bigger homes, and invest second deductible homes simply to receive government housing assistance disguised as tax breaks only the rich qualify for. In fact, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the special deduction is tantamount to the government handing wealthy taxpayers free money and not them keeping more of their own wealth.
The wealthy also get what is known as the ‘yacht deduction‘ because the big boat they own is considered a second home. Plus, if the big boat is loaned or hired out to a charter business when it is not being used, the owner can write off all expenses related to a marine vehicle including purchase price, insurance, maintenance, storage and docking fees; all while having complete access for personal use. Like a wealthy person’s first and second home, the yacht deduction is like getting free welfare from the government just for being rich enough to own a big boat.
Obviously there are plenty of other government handouts to the rich that the rest of the population will never qualify for, much less be aware of, and they will never be targeted by Republicans the way they focus on social programs for the poor and middle class. In fact, instead of even giving the appearance of helping the population, Republicans are specifically looking to eliminate what few restrictions on the super-wealthy becoming even more wealthy. The idea of repealing the estate tax is just one example of Republicans’ working for not just the one percent, but the richest two-tenths of one percent. What is telling is that this upcoming vote to help the richest of the rich get much richer comes on the heels of Republican budget proposals taking even more from the poor and middle class. The only thing that is curious is why Americans are not taking to the streets demanding that some Republican heads roll and it may have something to do with the mainstream media not reporting on what Republicans are doing or why they are doing it.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.