Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Editorial: Let the 'Death Tax' Die

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Editorial: Let the 'Death Tax' Die

Article excerpt

Financial crises stir the inventiveness of business, government and other hustlers, so it's not surprising that this current meltdown -- unprecedented in the experience of the vast majority of American adults -- is spawning ideas that are artful or atrocious, and sometimes both.

One of the worst ideas being floated by the new Obama White House -- aided and abetted by the Capital Hill crowd that always sees the transfer of something of value from one citizen to another as an opportunity to impose a tax -- is stopping the coming scheduled repeal of the estate tax in 2010. A certain few have even voiced their support for restoring to previous levels the cut the government can take out of an estate, a percentage that has fallen gradually since the slow-motion repeal became law in 2001.

Re-imposing the "death tax," an apt name for the levy even if it was cooked up by political mercenaries, would deal yet another blow to the newspaper industry at an especially vulnerable time. Federal bailout money is going to businesses ranging from the investment banks run by Dopes Formerly Known as Masters of the Universe to bow-and-arrow manufacturers. Newspapers, meanwhile, ask for none of that taxpayer-funded largesse, though their contribution to the well-being of American liberty and democracy is far more evident than the ability to concoct ever more exotic financial instruments.

Restoring the death tax would first of all hurt family-owned newspapers, whose numbers declined precipitously in the 20th century, to be sure, but have stabilized now as the industry faces this most severe test. …

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