As the nation’s and media’s attention is mostly focused on the health care fight in Congress, the right-wing is quietly gearing up for their next attempt to raid the U.S. Treasury on behalf of the wealthiest people in our country, to the detriment of the rest of us.

This campaign is to weaken the estate tax, a tax that is imposed on the transfer of property by only the wealthiest Americans to their heirs when they die. These are the same folks who just got bailed out during the last year’s economic crisis, and yet still expect to receive huge end of year bonuses while the rest of us are still looking at unemployment notices.

Now, the right-wing is revving up its campaign to eliminate or weaken the tax even further – using the opportunity presented by the expiration of the tax at the end of 2009.

They are trying to pull at our heartstrings, by giving the impression – as they did in the last fight over the estate tax during the Bush years – that average people like farmers are harmed by this tax. But here’s a few key facts:

  • The tax is imposed on only 3 in a 1000 estates. During the last estate tax fight, farm interests couldn’t cite a single example of heirs being forced to sell the family farm to pay for the estate tax when challenged by the media, despite the stories circulated about this by the right wing.
  • Repeal of the tax will cost the U.S. Treasury $1.3 trillion over 10 years – more than we need to fund health care reform and money that can be used for other urgent needs like education, roads, medical research and aid to cash-strapped states like New York.

We need to educate as many New Yorkers about the consequences of the policies of the Bush years, when Congress passed an astounding $2.5 trillion in tax cuts, heavily tilted towards the rich. During that period, the top 1% of wealthiest Americans – people now making at least $476,000 a year, received roughly one-third of the cuts – equivalent to getting a check of $52,122 each year from the feds. Enough is enough!

We’re going to be working for the rest of 2009 to educate organizations and average people alike about the consequences to average New Yorkers of eliminating or weakening the estate tax. Watch this page in the common weeks for details. In the meantime, download this information flyer, or email Cleo Oliver at coliver@citizenactionny.org to get involved.