Online Folk Festival: Antidote for Bad Estate Tax Legislation

After reading the bad news that the estate tax (a compromise) passed the House, I decided it was time to get out my guitar and play some Dylan, Nanci Griffith, Suzanne Vega, and Indigo Girls for my ever-appreciative audience of three cats and a baby. Then I decided to go online looking for some sources of good folk music. I found The Online Folk Festival and listened to a duet by Jackson Browne and Bonnie Raitt, some Traveling Wilbury’s, Paul Simon, and more.

And now, about that estate tax. It looks as though the Republicans are succeeding in their plan to turn the United States into a Third World country. They are willing to decrease our revenue via this tax compromise by an estimated $750 billion dollars over the next 10 years. So when we look at our country 10 years from now and find that we have more slums, more homeless families, more uninsured people, less quality public education, less social advancement, and more gated communities for the ultra-wealthy, we’ll know who to thank.

By the way, both Kennedy and Langevin opposed this compromise.


7 thoughts on “Online Folk Festival: Antidote for Bad Estate Tax Legislation

  1. You know, Mike never did answer the question about how he would pay for his war in Iraq after giving away the 3/4 $Trillion of the estate tax.

    So how about it, Mike?

    Or is that just mean-spirited of me? But you know, some of these people make these claims without any support, any evidence, and, it appears, any considered thought. They act like money grows on trees and then accuse liberals of being ‘soft-headed.’

    Feel free to edit this if I’ve crossed the line, but someone has to call people on what they say. I’m tired of the Ann Coulters of the world spouting venom and then accusing liberals of being ‘angry’ because they disagree with her.

    Wow, all that on a post about a folk-music link.

  2. Kiersten, since LBJ we have raised taxes to dramatically increase social spending and where has that gotten us? Are there no more slums or homeless? Are less people uninsured? Has the quality of public education increased?

    We want the same things, and I would be more than willing to compromise to reach those goals. But increasing the tax burden on Americans doesn’t seem to work. It’s not how much, but how it is spent.

    Would you agree that eliminating bureaucracy is a way to use tax dollars more effectively?

    I think we should get the federal government out of the business of social/welfare spending, and allow it to focus on its constitutional mandates of regulating trade and providing for our national defense. Smallest governments possible would be responsible for providing for the welfare of its citizens. States and localities would collect the most taxes, rather than the federal government as it does today.

    When a local community doles out welfare assistance, representatives can drive to the receivers homes to see how things are going, help with specific needs, and see where abuses might be occuring. Socialworkers like yourself could gather information and talk directly to the person who signs the checks. Help would be immediate, rather than weighed down by government bureaucrats and red tape. The professional socialworker would have more control as it should be. Similarly, public school teachers and administrators wouldn’t need to beg the feds for more money to fulfill mandates that aren’t even in the districts best interests.

    Let the federal government worry about national and international issues. Local governments can be held to greater scrutiny. It’s pretty easy to find out where local dollars are being spent, and to ensure against abuse/corruption. States would collect taxes for inter- and intrastate issues, and to assist larger metropolitan areas.

    What do you think?

  3. Hey Mike: if you really want to save money, let’s get the federal gov’t out of the military business. We’re spending way more money on no-bid contracts, sweetheart defense deals (see: Cunningham, Duke) and a so-called “war on terror.” What about that, Mike? It’s nice that you’re ignoring me, but I won’t go away. Pretending I’m not here is really not doing much for whatever credibilty you ever had.

    So, Mike, you were the one arguing about how crucial the war in Iraq is; how are you going to pay for it? You’re the one who feels the need for this federal security blanket; how are you going to pay for it?

    Answer the question, Mike.

    Because, basically, you’re advocating a system where we invade other countries and look the other way while people starve. Aren’t those the implications of your positions?

    Answer the question, Mike.

  4. Mike, First, let’s review a salient fact: a much smaller percentage of money goes to social services (4% for education, training, employment and social services, 14% for income security which goes to pay SSI, TANF, and the earned income tax credit, among other things) than goes to either defense spending (19%) or to INTEREST on the national debt (8%).

    If you’re suggesting the federal government should get out of the business of funding social security and medicare, which also makes up a large portion of the budget (social security, 21%, medicare 13%), it sounds like you are willing to compromise the quality of life and healthcare for a major portion of our population.

    So while I share your concern that social programs can be wasteful and ineffective and some of them need to be reformed, the bottom line is that they are a small portion of our federal spending.

    Second, I believe that some of our social spending has made significant improvements for people of the US. These include Head Start, food stamps and nutritional assistance to schools, and funds to improve housing for low-income families. There are many more worthy programs that are federally funded. Many of these intitiatives were born on the local level, but received support to grow from the federal level to be replicated in other states. In this way, I believe the federal government serves a vital role of promoting effective programs.

    States play a hugely important role, but the federal government helps to level the playing field and ensure that all states do a bare minimum to help people who lack adequate basic things like food and housing. In an ideal world, that money would not need to make the trip to Washington to be distributed, but we don’t live in an ideal world.


  5. Do you really believe that the federal government is more responsible and more efficient at providing services than the states? You are right when the you say the federal government levels the playing field, but I believe it does so blindly. It treats all states the same, regardless of their needs. For instance, during the Clinton administration, money was set aside to hire new teachers and reduce class size. For many southern and midwest states, it was exactly what was needed. But in the Northeast, classrooms were the priority. So while money was available for new teachers as long as class sizes were kept low, many communities were unable to take advantage because they simply did not have the facilities. We needed money to rebuild the infrastructures of our schools.

    This is just a small example of what happens everyday. Businessmen will tell you the dangers of micromanaging as companies grow. Our federal government is huge, yet continues to manage the 50 state governments, and thousands of county governments, and the tens of thousands of municipal governments.

    Military spending is another debate, and perhaps one well worth having. But as for social services, the federal government is wasting a great deal of money doing poorly the work local governments could do better. I hardly consider this “compromising the quality of life”. Like I said from the beginning, we want the same things. I just don’t think the federal government does it well or does it efficiently. Head Start, food stamps, and nutritional assistance have all been helpful programs, but could be even better…more efficient, less abuse…if smaller governments controlled the spending.

    Kiersten, you can go to Cranston city hall tomorrow and find out exactly where every penny is spent. When taxes are raised, you can see why and how much. You can petition your city council to increase or decrease specific lines in a budget. Isn’t this the most efficient means to govern? You can’t do that with the federal government!

  6. Military spending is another debate, and perhaps one worth having.

    Nice job of ducking the question. Again.

    Mike, why are we building more aircraft carriers, large tanks, mega-sized field artillery and a whole new generation of fighter jets? To fight the war on terrorism? How many jet squadrons does Al Qaida have? Do you know how many hundreds of billions of dollars it will take to develop a new generation of fighters? Did you know the Pentagon has proposed a new generation of stealth fighters? Have you read the quadrennial defense review, where the armed forces of tomorrow are proposed? Do you have any idea what the QDR is?

    You are willing to spend all this on weapons of mass destruction, and yet you can begrudge social spending? What are your priorities?

  7. Thanks for listening to the Online Folk Festival. I’m glad that listening helped the bad news go down a little better for you. Stop by anytime, and keep fighting the good fights.

    Greg Grant
    Online Folk Festival

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