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McNerney Chips Away At Estate Tax

mcnerney.jpgCongressman Jerry McNerney (CA-11) has recently decided to lead an attack on the estate tax from the Democratic side of the aisle. Yesterday, he announced that he is sponsoring H.R. 4042, the Family Farm, Small Business and Home Tax Relief Act. Here’s how a local newspaper reported on McNerney’s proposal: (emphasis added)

The “Family Farm, Small Business and Home Tax Relief Act” would raise the exemption from $2 million for farms and small businesses to $8 million and exclude from estate taxation as much as $2 million for the family home. “I’ve talked to a lot of farmers and business owners in my district who are very concerned about this issue,” said the Pleasanton congressman during a conference call from Washington, D.C. “In the long term, I’d like to eliminate the estate tax permanently.”

Of course, that position represents the complete antithesis of McNerney’s campaign promises of 2006. Just last year, McNerney responded to a questionnaire from On The Issues, stating that he “strongly opposed” a “decrease of overall taxation of the wealthy” and specifically stated his position as “No estate tax repeal; no permanent Bush tax cut.” Was his response to that questionnaire just a mistake made by campaign assistant? I don’t think so. Last year he ran on the principle meritocracy, not aristocracy, and claimed to support fair, progressive taxation that didn’t provide tax breaks to multi-millionaires. As a matter of fact, on his campaign website today, he claims to stake out the following position: (emphasis added)

Working people are being hit on two fronts at once. On the one hand, they are losing out as this nation rushes headlong, without care or planning, into a harshly competitive global economy. On the other hand, they are being hit by right-wing economic policies that unfairly favor the wealthiest among us. Look at the facts.

Over the past 25 years, the right-wing has passed a series of tax cuts that have greatly benefited our wealthiest citizens. Over 40% of the Republican tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 went to the top 1%. If you made $10,000 you got $5 back. If you made $1million, you got $88,873. The cuts that just went into effect in January 2006 were even more unfair. 97% of the benefits went to the top 1%. But that’s only the half of it. Under Richard Pombo and the Republican Congress, the estate tax was reduced; corporate taxes and capital gains taxes were slashed; taxes on dividends were completely eliminated.

Taxes on working people have not gone down. What little has been given with one hand has been taken away with the other. To make up for shrinking Federal resources, payroll taxes, sales taxes, local property taxes, and user fees have all risen. Wage earners now pay a much larger percentage of the tax bill. […]

We have to change this. The present Republican political leadership has America on the road to ruin. America’s greatness comes from its Dream – from the opportunity for a good life it held out for everyone. The right-wing believes in helping those who are already on top – with the idea that their wealth will ‘trickle down’ to the rest of us. For those who talk about ‘trickle down,’ here’s a statistic they should be embarrassed about. In 1989, there were 66 billionaires in America. There were 31.5 million people living below the poverty line. In 1999, there were 268 billionaires – and 34.5 million people living below the poverty line!

I want to help turn this around. We need to work with trade unions to accomplish that. We have to re-establish a fair, progressive system of taxation. … We just need a political leadership that understands America’s future can only be ensured by thinking about the common good – and not by enriching the few. We must keep the dream alive for all our citizens.

So it would appear that McNerney’s campaign website has yet to catch up to his recent adoption of neocon tax policy. McNerney stated yesterday that he is looking for Democrats to cosponsor his bill. Please urge your Representative to say “no” to the Bush tax cuts, say “no” to estate tax repeal, and say “no” to McNerney’s H.R. 4042.

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