I was on Lawrence O’Donnell’s show last night talking about the McConnell-Obama tax cut deal with Ezra Klein, Adam Green and Roger Hodge.  Lawrence asked me if I agree with Ezra Klein’s analysis of the bill, including his assertion that it would act as economic stimulus.  I answered:

HAMSHER:  I think that there is no way you can argue with a straight face that an estate tax that is even better for rich people than anything George Bush ever had is in any way stimulative…

O’DONNELL:  Not true, not true!  The estate tax today is ZERO!

Lawrence got really upset and started yelling that the estate tax proposed in the Obama deal was 35%, which is better than it was starting in 2010.

I frankly wasn’t sure what he was talking about.  When George Bush left office, the estate tax was at 45%.  Lawrence was right, the estate tax was repealed in 2010 and it went to zero…but George Bush wasn’t president in 2010.

I assumed he must’ve misheard what I’d said. But Lawrence had already had fights with two of the other guests, so instead of getting bogged down arguing about who said what when, I continued on my point…this estate tax bill, put forward by Blanche Lincoln, was nothing more than a giveaway to the wealthy and it would not be stimulative.

Ezra came back and agreed with me — there was no way the estate tax could be considered stimulative.

When I got back home, I got quite a few emails from people who were familiar with the history of the estate tax, saying “you were right, under Bush it was more favorable than what Obama is proposing.”

But I got a few like this, from what Glenn Greenwald likes to call the “rancid cultist rump dead-enders”:

Jan Hamsher showed that you guys don’t have a clue! lol… ON MSNBC last night she talked about the Estate Tax under Bush being less friendly than the one Dems are proposing.  I am an educator and I find it hilarious that you guys just put representatives on television that don’t know anything about what they are talking about.  They are merely spewing out crap….

And this:

WOW
LAWRENCE MADE QUICK WORK OF YOU.
YOUR USUAL INACCURACIES WERE DISPENSED WITH FAST
AT LEAST GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT WHEN YOU GO ON TV TO EMBARRASS YOURSELF
YOU SMUG PROGRESSIVES? COULDN’T CARE LESS ABOUT POOR WORKING AMERICANS
OR ABOUT THE UNEMPLOYED
YOUR THEATRICAL MANNERISMS JUST HELP TO SPOTLIGHT YOUR LACK OF ANY CLASS OR INTEGRITY
TRY DOING SOMETHING PRODUCTIVE ..IT’S A GOOD DEAL HARDER THAN CARPING AND SNIPING AT THE PRESIDENT
OBAMA IS THE BEST PRESIDENT WE HAVE EVER HAD.
AND WILL BE FOR THE NEXT 6 YEARS.

I looked at the tape and figured most people who were watching closely could follow that Lawrence and I were talking apples and oranges, and certainly anyone who took the trouble to look things up would quickly figure it out…35% is better for the rich than the estate tax under Bush:

Prior to President Bush’s 2001 tax cuts, the estate tax levied a 55% maximum tax rate on all inherited assets above a $1 million exemption – including business assets passed on by a founder. Bush’s cuts set into motion a gradual phase-out of the estate tax; the exemption level has risen and the tax rate has been dropping since 2001, down to a planned 45% rate in 2009 with a $3.5 million exemption. Current law calls for the tax to be repealed for one year in 2010, but without congressional action to either reform the estate tax or make the tax cuts permanent, it will revert back to 2001 levels in 2011.

But some people have apparently let their anger at liberal bloggers get the better of them, and have surrendered their critical thinking abilities.

Well, better that they rant at home with their finger on the cap lock than in front of the DC press corp, I suppose.

Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Firedoglake.com. Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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