As we approached the new year OWN pointed out that the estate tax in Wisconsin was set to expire. Just last month we informed the public that this move would cost the state some $300 million. Ironically that is the same amount of our current budget deficit. It is in the name of that deficit that conservatives want to cut programs that help the most needy in Wisconsin. Last month we also launched an online petition drive asking our legislators to reestablish the estate tax rather than fix the budget problem on the backs of the needy.
In raising this issue of Robin Hood in reverse, we sparked quite a set of reactions from the right wing. Naturally, our call for fairness and compassion does not fit into the small little box that is right wing economics. A recent example of this appears in a column in today’s Badger Herald.
In his column, Sam Clegg relies heavily on ‘a report submitted by Daniel Miller of the Joint Economic Committee.’ Since Daniel Miller is hardly a household name, it would have been nice if Clegg informed his readers more fully about the man. Conveniently, Clegg fails to reveal that Daniel Miller is a GOP staffer that works on the committee. In addition Miller has worked for the Republican National Committee doing work that included opposition research. The RNC is hardly the place to go for unbiased economic data.
Other than his reliance on the partisan economist, the rest of Clegg’s argument is reduced to reciting all of the tired right wing talking points. For me, this issue boils down to one of fairness. Should someone that wins a genetic lottery, by being born into a wealthy family, pay less inheriting that estate than the poorest Wisconsinite pays in one single paycheck? When the average person looks at that stark reality, they don’t have a problem asking the most fortunate to contribute something. A report drafted by some partisan economist is hardly enough to exempt them from paying their fair share.