Trump-Pence Earn Benjamin Franklin Award: Vow Death Tax Repeal

Alexandria, VA.–Donald Trump and Mike Pence have earned the Benjamin Franklin award for pledging to totally abolish the confiscatory death tax.

60 Plus Association Founder and Chairman Jim Martin said his organization created the award to inspire repeal of the tax. “It was Franklin who famously said there are two certainties in life, death and taxes, but because of the estate or ‘death’ tax there is a third certainty—taxes after death. 60 Plus presents the Franklin award to those who support repeal, to abolish that third certainty—taxes after death—and make Franklin’s famous quote accurate once again,” Martin noted. “On the other hand, Hillary Clinton wants to raise the tax to a whopping 65%, the highest rate in more than 30 years , and drop the exemption from its current $5.45 million to $3.5 million, numbers touted by her as having the ‘rich’ pay their ‘fair share.’ as a way to raise revenue to be spent on other programs she promotes. I have a piece of news for Mrs. Clinton and her economic team.

“The death tax is not a net revenue raiser, it’s a revenue loser. The death tax repeal effort is not a tax cut for the rich. They don’t pay it. The death tax enriches lawyers, accountants and insurance brokers. The death tax is a hindrance to job expansion. The death tax discourages savings. It encourages consumption, leading Nobel laureate Milton Friedman to proclaim that you may as well spend it on wine, and song, or words to that effect, because Uncle Sam is going to confiscate it. The death tax hurts minority-owned businesses who lack liquid assets. The death tax has strong bi-partisan support for repeal. It is considered the most despised of all taxes, that it’s morally wrong, even unfair, if you will, to tax upon death.

“When in the House, Mr. Pence voted for repeal. As Governor of Indiana he led the drive to repeal the state inheritance tax, as did Maine Gov. Paul Le Page whose state became the 31st to ban what a majority of voters call an ‘unfair’ tax. Now Donald Trump is for eliminating this tax because he knows the aftermath leads to more job creation. He also knows, as do economists, that the tax generates less than one percent of federal revenues and in fact it’s a net revenue loser due to collection and compliance costs. The tax forces family businesses to waste time and limited resources on expensive insurance policies and estate planning,  In the Senate, only one Democrat, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, voted for Senator John Thune’s (R-SD) repeal bill.

“Former economists for President Clinton have come down on the side of repeal if their works are any indication.  Lawrence Summers, Clinton’s Treasury Secretary, Alicia Munnell, member of his Council of Economic Advisors, and Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate, for economics, have all published work on the estate tax’s stifling effect on job growth and the economy as a whole. Former Republican CBO Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin is also widely quoted on the harmful effects of the death tax.

“Mrs. Clinton opposes repeal. She thinks she knows better how to spend your money than you do. She is in for a rude awakening. More than 70% of the public favors total repeal. This is a defining issue between the candidates,” Martin asserted. “On behalf of more than 7 million seniors, their children and grandchildren, 60 Plus is honored to cite Mr. Trump and his running mate for their job creation economic plan. Seniors are also more than pleased that both have pledged to always protect Social Security and Medicare, programs that the elderly have paid into and depend on,” Martin concluded.

“The death tax has been imposed four times for defense purposes, in 1797, 1862, 1898, and 1916. It was repealed the first three times shortly after hostilities ended. But Congress failed to repeal when World War I ended. It’s long overdue for this intended ‘temporary’ tax to be repealed a fourth and final time. While I’m credited with re-naming the estate tax the death tax, truth be told, it was called a death tax by Ronald Reagan and even before Reagan. But 60 Plus is credited with moving repeal from one goal line to the other, spearheading repeal passage in the House of Representatives but falling just short in the Senate.

“In 2005, the House repealed by a 110 vote margin, 272-162, but it fell three votes short in the Senate. Over 40 Democrats, including eight Congressional Black Caucus members, voted to abolish it. Clearly eight Black Caucus members can’t be accused of voting for a ‘tax cut for the rich.’

“In 2015, repeal again passed the House by a wide bi-partisan vote, 240-179. One Black Caucus member, Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga) co-sponsored repeal with chief author, Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX).  Bishop represents Plains, Ga., President Carter’s home town, and hears from his peanut farmers who are land and equipment rich but ‘cash poor’ who cannot afford lawyers and accountants to set up trusts and foundations. Mr. Bishop has called this onerous job-robbing tax ‘un-American.’

“Edward McCaffrey, a USC law professor and a self-described ‘unrequited liberal’ once opposed repeal, but now calls for outright abolishment. He has said the death tax is a tax ‘liberals should love to hate’ because of its negative effect on job growth and tax revenue.  The mega-rich, liberals and conservatives, set up trusts and foundations to shelter their assets. An endless Foundation list: Gates, Buffett, Winfrey, Clinton, Trump, Boone, and many wealthy athletes now have their own foundations to assure their families of some control over their after tax-assets, and who can blame them.

“It’s family-run businesses, as well as farmers, and newly emerging, minority-owned first generation businesses that suffer the most.  Estate tax liabilities led to the bankruptcy of the well known Chicago Defender, the oldest black-owned daily newspaper in the country and threatens the existence of black-owned weeklies from coast to coast. This ‘temporary’ tax is a job-robbing, confiscatory tax that should have been repealed nearly 100 years ago. (A few years back, eminent boxing promoter Don King rescued a small minority paper, investing in it he said ‘as part of my heritage.’).