Estate Tax Repeal Is Really 'The Donald Trump, Jr. Relief Act'

The GOP tax plan could be worth more than a billion dollars to Trump's kids.
10/24/2017 08:02 am ET Updated Oct 24, 2017
Pool via Getty Images

Donald Trump claims that his giant tax cut proposal would do nothing to benefit the very rich like himself and his family. In reality a major portion of that proposal – the repeal of the estate tax – could reasonably be named: “The Donald Trump, Jr. Relief Act.”

That’s because it would provide Trump’s namesake, Donald Trump, Jr. – and his four siblings – with a billion dollar windfall that would ultimately go right into their ever- so-deserving pockets.

To finance this Trump family windfall and other tax breaks for millionaires, billionaires and wealthy corporations, the GOP budget proposes to take away health care coverage from millions on Medicaid; cut spending on Medicare, Social Security and education; and leave our children with over one-and-a-half trillion dollars of new debt.

Of course the lucky Trump family would not be the only beneficiaries of Trump’s proposal to eliminate the estate tax. According to the non-partisan Tax Policy Center, sons and daughters of millionaires would collectively receive an estimated $174 billion of new tax cuts over the next 10 years and $324.5 billion over the next two decades.

Currently, the estate tax only affects estates of over $5.5 million for single individuals and $11 million for couples, so we know for certain that every penny of this tax cut will go to the sons and daughters of multi-millionaires.

As a result, according to a study by the Center of Budget Priorities, only .002 percent of all estates pay any estate tax – 2 in every 1,000. There is no estate tax (or so called “death tax”) on money left by 98.8 percent of Americans – only those of multi-millionaires.

We don’t know exactly how much Donald Trump is worth, because he refuses to disclose his income tax returns and other financial records, but Forbes Magazine estimates his wealth at about $3.5 billion. That would mean that Trump’s kids Donald, Jr., Ivanka, Tiffany, Eric and Barron would share in the “well deserved” windfall of about a billion dollars if the estate tax repeal plan goes through.

This, of course, is not the only benefit the Trump tax cut plan would bestow upon the Trump family – including Trump himself ― and his billionaire friends.

In fact, the Tax Policy Center found that 80 percent of the $6.6 trillion in tax cuts would go to the top 1 percent of the population and those families “struggling” to make ends meet on $900,000 or more would see an average tax cut of $200,000 each year.

Amazingly, a third of middle class taxpayers would actually get a tax increase.

Now some people fret that it is economically and morally indefensible to give tax cuts like these to the wealthy at a time when Trump proposes to take away health care from millions, when millions of American citizens are struggling to rebuild their lives in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, ordinary workers are still working for the same real wages they had 30 years ago, and young people are saddled with hundreds of thousands dollars of debt just to get a higher education.

These “old fashioned thinkers” believe it is wrong that every dime of the 48 percent increase in per-person gross domestic product that America created over the last 30 years has gone to the top 1 percent.

But that ignores the enormous contribution to our society and economy that has been made by children who worked so hard to win the birth lottery and to be born into wealth and privilege.

You really have to empathize with the plight of kids like Donald Trump, Jr. It will cost the kid a lot to live up to his father’s expectations that he maintain many homes – own an airline-sized private jet – support a series of ex-spouses – dine at the finest restaurants – and jet off to one of many golf clubs every weekend.

These kids worked hard to earn the right to be born into the right family at the right time. After all, they have earned all of this money the old-fashioned way: they stand to inherit it.

Never mind that many of the children of the ultra-rich never did an honest day’s work in their lives – unless of course you call jetting off to the South of France work. These are exactly the kind of “productive” people who deserve another tax cut.

There is simply a limit to what our economy and our government can do, right? You have to pick your priorities. Providing billions more dollars to a tiny number of rich heirs is right there at the top of the list.

After all, they have the inborn sense of entitlement and privilege that will allow them to put all of that money to the best possible use in our economy so that it will “trickle down” on the rest of us. They have the experience, after all. Being born with a silver spoon in your mouth is harder than it’s cracked up to be.

Just look at history. “Trickle down” economics has a great track record. The last time we tried “trickle down economics” with the Bush tax cuts, things worked out so well. At least, they worked out well if you liked the stagnating economy, giant deficits and the greatest economic collapse since the Great Depression.

And a billion more dollars for Donald Trump, Jr. and his siblings is not all that much anyway.

Granted a billion dollars could be used to:

- Provide Meals on Wheels for a year to 400,000 hungry seniors citizens – most of whom have worked hard their entire lives.

- Provide college educations to 2,573 young people who will use them to actually generate economic growth.

- Build 3 new veterans’ hospitals to help end the shameful lack of services we provide to the men and women who risked their lives for our country.

- Build 500 miles of roads – enough for a new highway between Chicago and Pittsburg. And much of the money used to build those roads would go to provide good-paying, union construction jobs that allow people who actually work for a living – building things ― to spend more money on goods and services for their families and actually generate economic growth. What’s more it would create a new economic asset that will increase long-term growth—an asset that, by the way, would belong to all of us – not just Donald Trump, Jr. and his kin.

Oh no, far better that a billion be handed over to Donald Trump, Jr. and his brothers and sisters who were born on third base and think they hit a triple.

The entire Trump tax cut plan is nothing more than an outrageous attempt by a small group of millionaires, billionaires and wealthy corporations to grab an even larger share of the income created by all of us in our economy.

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the top 10 percent of the population already controls 76 percent of all our nation’s wealth, while the top 5 percent hold the vast majority (63 percent) and the top 1 percent have 35 percent.

An Oxfam study found that the top 1 percent of the world population controls as much wealth as everyone else on the planet – the entire other 99 percent put together. That’s not democracy.

And things have actually been getting worse. According to an Urban Institute study, between 1963 and 2016:

- Families near the bottom of the wealth distribution (those at the 10th percentile) went from having no wealth on average to being about $1,000 in debt,

- Families near the top (at the 90th percentile) saw their wealth increase fivefold,

- And the wealth of those at the 99th percentile—in other words, those wealthier than 99 percent of all families—grew sevenfold.

None of the wealth that we’ve handed over to the wealthy has “trickled down” to the rest of us – not a dime. Just the opposite, since the incomes of ordinary working people have been stagnant for 30 years.

Exactly the time to hand over trillions more to the wealthiest 1 percent ― and billions exclusively to the sons and daughters of multi-millionaires, right?

It is critical that Americans rise up and defeat the Trump plan to cut health care, education, social security and programs like Meals On Wheels in order to slash taxes for the rich – including the “Donald Trump, Jr. Relief Act.”

The Resistance to Trump defeated his outrageous attempt to take away health care from millions by repealing the Affordable Care Act. Time to defeat him again. Congress must reject any proposal that has one penny of new tax cuts for the rich and wealthy corporations.

Robert Creamer is a long-time political organizer and strategist, and author of the book: Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win, available on Amazon.com. He is a partner in Democracy Partners and a Senior Strategist for Americans United for Change. Follow him on Twitter @rbcreamer.

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