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Superrich stand to profit from Kerry
| Saturday, April 17, 2004
| John Berlau
Posted on 04/16/2004 11:30:35 PM PDT by JohnHuang2
By John Berlau © 2004 Insight/News World Communications Inc.
Though President Bush constantly is criticized and attacked by Democratic partisans for pursuing policies that benefit "the wealthy," why are so many of what would be considered America's superrich his political opponents?
In addition to the Hollywood mega-elite, which since the death of Sam Goldwyn have opposed the GOP mainly for cultural reasons, billionaire businessmen have stepped forward calling for the defeat of Bush or his policies.
Most prominent has been speculator George Soros, who has pledged to raise $75 million to defeat Bush, given millions to Democratic Bush-bashing groups such as MoveOn.org, and told the Washington Post that ousting Bush is "the central focus of my life" and "a matter of life and death."
But investor Warren Buffett also has opposed many of Bush's tax policies, such as estate-tax repeal and dividend tax cuts, calling them "class welfare for my class."
The mass media never cease to talk about how "the rich" will benefit from policies such as estate-tax repeal, while overlooking what many economists have seen as the positive effects that will benefit the economy as a whole such as job growth, increased savings and preservation of family businesses.
Yet when a celebrated would-be plutocrat such as Buffett, Soros or William Gates Sr., father of the Microsoft billionaire and a wealthy lawyer in his own right, comes out against the estate tax or in favor of any other left-wing policy, their motives never are questioned.
These economic royalists regularly are described as acting against their interests, even though Insight has found that Buffett, for instance, has businesses that actually profit from the existence of the estate tax.
Tim Graham, director of media analysis at the Media Research Center, notes that Soros regularly is described as a philanthropist, whereas no such term ever is affixed to Richard Mellon Scaife, who gives to conservative causes and is portrayed by the liberal media as an agitator.
This was so even though the sums he gave to conservative and anti-Clinton groups were a fraction of his giving. Scaife gave mostly to ballet companies and other cultural institutions in his hometown of Pittsburgh, carefully keeping his economic interests separated from his philanthropy.
And analysts say economic interests always should be looked at when examining political players on both the right and left. Although both Soros and Buffett may be advocating policies that fit their worldview, it develops that both also stand to gain financially from the policy ideas they're pitching.
"These aren't just philanthropists, and these aren't just political ideologues; these are people who stand to profit" says Tim Carney, a Phillips Foundation journalism fellow and author of the forthcoming book "Regulatory Robber Barons.'
"They're making investments and expecting a return on it," Carney notes.
Soros, for instance, is a currency trader, with reported vast holdings in unstable financial markets. He has taken a beating in the last few years on his positions in the Russian ruble. Coincidentally or not, Soros advocates global taxes to strengthen institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and World Bank to bail out unstable governments facing currency crises.
In his book "George Soros on Globalization," the international speculator criticized an IMF/World Bank reform commission headed by noted conservative economist Allan Meltzer that called for sharply limiting bailouts.
Soros wrote that this was too strong a medicine and the proposal for a restructured agency was too restricted: "Contrary to the Meltzer Commission's recommendations, it would be premature to terminate the existing lending operations of the World Bank. So-called middle-income countries like Brazil, and even Chile, have very uneven income distributions and great social needs. ... The World Bank has an important niche to fill."
But critics of these institutions note that their taxpayer-subsidized lending and bailout practices tend to benefit allegedly piratical speculators such as Soros more than the people of the Third World by giving the big boys the opportunity for a huge return with taxpayers holding the risk.
"Bailouts are a great way for rich people to make lots of money," Carney says. "They'll put money where no one else wants it, because it's a bad investment, and then get big government to help them out."
Carney adds that "bailouts are as likely, if not more so, under Democratic administrations."
Much more likely, says former hedge-fund manger Andy Kessler. He points to the Clinton administration's bailout of Mexico during the peso crisis in the mid-1990s, for which Wall Street banks lobbied, and contrasts that to the Bush administration's refusal to bail out an Enron teetering on bankruptcy in 2001.
Robert Rubin, the former Clinton administration Treasury secretary who engineered the Mexico bailout, actually called the Bush Treasury Department to ask it to help Enron.
"The Bush people are more free market, and [John] Kerry is more likely to appoint a more interventionist Treasury secretary like Rubin," Kessler says.
He thinks this is not unimportant to Soros because, Kessler speculates, Soros is "probably long and wrong in [his investments in] the entire Eastern bloc."
It's difficult to tell how exactly Soros would benefit, because there is little transparency in his holdings. Soros' funds are held privately and do not have to be reported to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
In fact Insight got an unusually hostile response from Soros' spokesman for even questioning whether Soros would benefit financially from his huge expenditures on political activity.
"I have no faith in the ability or desire of Insight magazine to portray George Soros' activities in an unbiased manner," said Michael Vachon, the spokesman for Soros Fund Management in New York City.
Pressed, he finally said, "There's no relationship between the policy prescriptions George Soros recommends and his own financial holdings. He doesn't make policy recommendations to increase his own personal wealth. That's not what motivates him."
Critics of Soros wonder if his spokesman doth protest too much but concede that liberal or statist billionaires probably aren't motivated by money alone. After all, there's power.
But the critics say it's foolish to think that citizens who have amassed great fortunes suddenly put aside their financial interests and the heady perks of being an insider when it comes to politics and policy influence.
"They put up a great moral front, but they're great money managers. That's their legacy, and I suspect there's always some economic underpinning to their policies," says a close observer of this crowd.
Take Buffett. He, Soros, Gates Sr. and some of the Rockefellers got great press for joining with a group called "Responsible Wealth" that seeks preservation of the estate tax. Buffett was given laudatory press for remarks such as the one to the New York Times about "choosing the 2020 Olympic team by picking the eldest sons of the gold-medal winners in the 2000 Olympics."
But one thing the laudatory articles didn't say is that Buffet owns insurance companies that profit mightily from the threat posed by the estate tax.
Dena Battle, tax-policy analyst for the National Federation for Independent Business, or NFIB , says many of that group's members have businesses worth $1 million or more, but have take-home pay around $50,000. Because the estate tax currently hits 55 percent of income over a certain threshold, the only way many small-business owners can pass on their businesses to their children is by buying a life-insurance policy to prepay the tax. The policy, of course, also includes hefty fees for the insurer.
And one of those companies is Safeco Life and Investments, a Redmond, Wash.-based company which advertises on its website that it provides "effective estate-tax planning" and "business-succession planning."
Who owns Safeco? It was acquired recently by "an investor group led by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway," according to Reuters.
"This shows his fortune benefits directly from the estate tax on the backs of small businesses," says William Beach, an economist at the conservative Heritage Foundation who points out that Buffett has other such life-insurance holdings as well. Berkshire Hathaway did not return Insight's phone calls seeking comment.
The NFIB's Battle points out that a typical small-business owner pays $27,000 a year for an estate-tax life-insurance policy.
"That's [the cost of a new] employee," she says, explaining that there would be no need for this type of policy if there were no death tax and that money could be used to help the economy by hiring more workers.
She points out that the superrich such as Buffett, Soros and Gates Sr. can afford to have experts set up trusts and other devices to deal with the estate tax; it's the new entrepreneur who has trouble plowing through the red tape. Minority businessmen such as Black Entertainment Television's Bob Johnson have echoed Battle's view.
Kessler says that even with the superrich, when it comes to money, "there's always a degree of uncertainty and sleepless nights," and goodly outlays to politicians give them access to protection.
In Soros' case, his theory of the "bubble of American supremacy" is something he has been preaching for nearly 20 years, as well as practicing in his investment philosophy, sometimes with disastrous results.
During the 1980s, he wrote in "The Alchemy of Finance" that he lacked confidence in Reaganomics and that Japan would replace the United States as the economic dominator. He sold his stock at the very bottom in 1987. He lost money betting on the strength of the euro in the late 1990s. Also in the late 1990s, his Quantum Fund lost a tremendous amount, shorting U.S. technology stocks. His fund finally got into the tech market just as the Clinton downturn was hitting in 2000 and lost even more.
Speculation has been rampant that Soros might try to flip the market in the weeks before the 2004 election in an effort to defeat Bush, and there has been much talk about how he could try this.
Economist Donald Luskin, who heads the firm Trend Macrolytics, says that part of this strategy may just be funding groups that talk down the economy.
If Soros has bet against American resurgence, this economy-bashing could benefit his holdings as well, Luskin says, "I think his most effective way is to talk it down by diminishing confidence, by enhancing a sense of risk, by playing up all this outsourcing sh-t, and saying 'Don't be fooled that you have a job now, it's going away in two years, and John Kerry will prevent that.' That's very effective stuff."
Of Soros' successes Luskin says, "He makes money when there's a dummy on the other side."
On the other hand, Kerry supporters Buffett and Soros have about $50 billion worth of liquidity with which to play, and October can be a very volatile month in the markets.
TOPICS: Business/Economy; Editorial; Front Page News; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: 2004; berkshirehathaway; bigcogwheelturns; billionaires; billionairesforkerry; cse; deathpays; deathtax; estatetax; estatetaxprofit; foundations; georgesoros; kerry; mellon; nfib; philanthropists; proestatetax; responsiblewealth; richardmellonscaife; richardscaife; safeco; samgoldwyn; soros; superrich; warrenbuffet; warrenbuffett
Saturday, April 17, 2004
The super-rich oppose elimination of the estate tax not only for monetary gain, but because their wealth has been placed in foundations. Foundations provide an income tax deduction, and if properly invested, provide a stream of income to the founders and heirs under the guise of managment fees and directors salaries. Also, the big foundations are notorious for donating to left-wing causes. Bill Gates and Ted Turner are two of the super-rich who have created foundations, and we have all heard of the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations.
posted on 04/16/2004 11:53:37 PM PDT
(Hawaii - a Socialist paradise)
Right on the money.
posted on 04/16/2004 11:55:30 PM PDT
by Mr. Mojo
They want to pay taxes?
How about a 2% per annum Wealth Tax on all wealth above $50 million.
That relieves their social conscience and leaves the vast majority of us alone.
posted on 04/17/2004 12:04:46 AM PDT
Barbara Streisand gets to keep her money?
posted on 04/17/2004 1:28:17 AM PDT
by The Raven
African American business leaders support repeal of the death tax
To: Members of the Senate
From: Jack Kemp
Re: African American Business Support for Repealing the Death Tax
Date: April 5, 2001
Forty-nine leading African-American businessmen and businesswomen, including Bob Johnson of BET Holdings, Earl Graves of Black Enterprise Magazine and Alice Houston of Automotive Carrier Services, took out an ad in newspapers across America yesterday to urge the Congress to repeal the "Death Tax." I am enclosing a facsimile of the ad because I think it is the single best and most succinct statement I have seen of why we all believe Congress should repeal this economically destructive tax, which is so harmful to the first generation of black entrepreneurs.
The Gift and Estate Tax is not a tax on wealth, as its proponents believe. It is a tax on getting wealthy as these businessmen and businesswomen understand. It is a tax on success, and as the ad points out, by depressing the return to capital investment it retards income growth for all workers. In short, it is just one more government-imposed obstacle preventing those on the bottom rungs of the economy from climbing the ladder of success to achieve the American Dream.
Abraham Lincoln said it best: "I take it that it is best for all to leave each man free to acquire property as fast as he can. Some will get wealthy. I dont believe in a law to prevent a man from getting rich; it would do more harm than good." Nothing I can imagine violates the spirit of Lincolns sentiment more than for the government to tell people they are free to acquire as much property and wealth as they can during their lifetime, but will not be free to pass the fruits of their success along to their heirs when they die. Yet, that is precisely what we do with the "Death Tax."
Please read the arguments put forth in the attached ad and give them your serious consideration. I think you will find the arguments compelling and conclude as these businessmen and businesswomen do that its time to bury the estate tax once and for all.
AFRICAN AMERICAN BUSINESS LEADERS CALL FOR AN END TO THE ESTATE TAX
We the undersigned African Americans support the elimination of the Estate Tax. We call for the repeal of this tax for the following reasons:
The Estate tax is unfair double taxation since taxpayers are taxed twice once when the money is earned and again when you die. The income taxes you pay, in some cases up to 40 percent, already redistributes wealth and provides for government services. The government should not require you to pay taxes again simply because you die. As the National Black Chamber of Commerce notes, a person who works hard, pays taxes along the way both corporate and income taxes and invests and saves money should not be penalized with punitive taxes at his or her death.
The Estate Tax will cause many of the more than 1 million black-owned family businesses to fail or be sold when the 55 percent Estate Tax is imposed on already undercapitalized minority-owned enterprises. The fact that the tax can be paid with interest over a number of years is off little comfort or no help to already cash-strapped minority firms. In addition, the entire Black community suffers when these minority-and family-run businesses that provide jobs and services in underserved communities are forced to shut down to pay the Estate Tax.
Unlike most White Americans, many African Americans who accumulated wealth did so facing race discrimination in education, employment, access to capital, and equal access to government resources. In many cases, race discrimination was supported by governmental policies and failure to enforce equal rights laws. It is unfair and unjust for the government through the Estate Tax to seize a portion of the estate of the individuals it failed to provide equal opportunity.
The Estate Tax is particularly unfair to the first generation of the high net worth African Americans who have accumulated wealth only recently. These individuals may have family members and relatives who have not been as fortunate in accumulating assets who could directly benefit from their share of an estate as heir. Elimination of the Estate Tax would allow African Americans to pass the full fruits of their labor to the next generation and beyond. Elimination of the Estate Tax will help close the gap in this nation between African American families and White families. The net worth of an average African American family is $20,000 or 10 percent of the $200,000 net worth of the average White family. Repealing the Estate Tax will permit wealth to grow in the Black community through investment in minority businesses that will stimulate the economic well-being of the Black community and allow African American families to participate fully in the American Dream.
The Estate Tax impedes economic growth because it levies yet another layer of taxes on capital. More capital investment means higher incomes for all workers. By encouraging intricate planning techniques to reduce taxes, the death tax has created an entire industry of specialized lawyers and accountants. The added complexity and compliance costs make this one of the least efficient federal taxes.
Warren Anderson President and Owner The Anderson-Dubose Company
Clarence Avant President, Interior Music
Bernard B. Beal CEO M.R. Beal & Company
Dave Bing Chairman The Bing Group
Sherri Blount Attorney Fitch, Even, Tabin & Flannery
Thomas J. Burrell Chairman Burrell Communications Group
Gregory B. Calhoun CEO Calhoun Enterprises
Cleveland A. Christophe Managing Partner TSG Capital Group, LLC .
Kenton Clark President Computer Consulting Associates
Keith Clinkscales Chairman & CEO Vanguarde Media
Barry Cooper CEO Black Voices.com
Comer J. Cottrell Owner Cottrell Investments
David Dalton President & CEO Health Resource Inc.
Lemuel Daniels Financial Consultant
Chester C. Davenport Managing Director Georgetown Partners, L.L.C.
Samuel Dickens, III President & CEO Premier Circuit Assembly, Inc.
Conway Downing, Jr. Senior Advisor Mattox Woolfolk LLC
Kenny Edmonds President & CEO Edmonds Entertainment
Gerold D. Edwards President & CEO Engineered Plastic Products, Inc.
Nathaniel R. Goldston, III Chairman, President & CEO Gourmet Services Inc.
Earl G. Graves, Sr. Publisher & CEO Black Enterprise Magazine
Edward W. Gray, Jr. Attoney Fitch, Even, Tabin & Flannery
Ernest Green Managing Director Lehman Brothers
Ambassador Bradley P. Holmes
A. Wade Houston CEO JHT Holdings, Inc.
Alice K. Houston President & CEO Automotive Carrier Services
Gwendolyn Smith Iloani President & CEO Smith Wiley & Company
Don Jackson Chairman & CEO Central City Productions
Charlie W. Johnson President & CEO Active Transportation
Eric G. Johnson President & CEO Baldwin Richardson Foods Company
Robert L. Johnson Chairman & CEO BET Holdings, Inc.
Debra L. Lee President & COO BET Holdings, Inc
Butch Lewis President & CEO Butch Lewis Productions, Inc.
Byron Lewis Chairman & CEO UniWorld Group, Inc.
Ed Lewis Chairman & CEO Essence Communications Partners
Alfred Liggins CEO Radio One, Inc.
Denise H. Lloyd President & CEO D.H. Lloyd & Associates, Inc.
Dr. Samuel Metters President & CEO Metters Industries, Inc.
B. Doyle Mitchell, Jr. President & CEO Industrial Bank, N.A.
Dominic Ozanne President Ozanne Construction Company
Mamon Powers, Jr. President Powers & Sons Construction Company, Inc.
John L. Procope Chairman E.G. Bowman Company Inc.
Herman J. Russell Chairman H.J. Russell & Company
Alexis Scott Publisher & CEO Atlanta Daily World
Sydney L. Small Chairman Access 1 Communications Corp.
Warren M. Thompson Chairman & CEO Thompson Hospitality Corp.
Maurice B. Tose President TeleCommunications Systems, Inc.
Houston L. Williams CEO Pacific Network Supply, Inc.
James Winters President United Energy http://www.empoweramerica.org/stories/storyReader$253
Trusts and Foundations.
That's exactly right and what I've always said. Politics is not "rich" against "poor". It is the oligopoly of super-rich (who write their self-serving loopholes in the law and live apart behind high walls) and the "poor" (and stupid) against the upper middle class (who live in nice homes but close enough to everybody else to be visible and incite envy).
This is how to proceed against the death tax:
Offer the super-rich a choice - elimination of the death tax - or elimination of all loopholes on the 55%, retroactive for the last four generations to be paid by those foundations. Watch the Rockefellers and Kennedys squirm.
The super-rich need to be exposed widely for the hypocrites (racists and manipulators) they are. Note that I don't want to take away anything they have, except their dynastic political power to keep their thumbs on entrepreneurs and people moving up into their spheres of power that are mostly socially conservative.
"African American business leaders support repeal of the death tax"
It's amazing how much White conservatives and African-Americans have in common if only more A-As could see that there is no future in government handouts.
Buffett . . . Soros, Gates Sr. and some of the Rockefellers got great press for joining with a group called "Responsible Wealth" that seeks preservation of the estate tax. Buffett was given laudatory press for remarks such as the one to the New York Times about "choosing the 2020 Olympic team by picking the eldest sons of the gold-medal winners in the 2000 Olympics."
But one thing the laudatory articles didn't say is that Buffet owns insurance companies that profit mightily from the threat posed by the estate tax.
Whether the superrich have hidden financial motives or no, I know not. But what is excruciatingly clear is that even it not,
- The middle class exists because its members adhere to an ethic of personal responsibility
- The Republican Party is the party of the middle class
- "Objective" journalism is opposed to individual responsibility
- The rich get a return in Public Relations flattery when they attack the middle class from the left.
Why Broadcast Journalism is
Unnecessary and Illegitimate
Citizens for a Sound Economy is one of the leaders in the fight against the death tax penalty.
This link has some great resources for armchair activists who want to help wage war on this grossly unfair double taxation: http://www.cse.org/deathtax/death_tax.php
posted on 04/17/2004 6:02:47 AM PDT
(Yep. We're sitting in traffic so they can fund the Public Transportation Utopia...)
I absolutely agree. African Americans have made less progress under the welfare state than they had without it. The democrats simply want to keep much of America poor and dependant through scare tactics. When will these people realize that Jesse Jackson and his ilk do not actually "feel the pain" of African Americans. MLK said that he dreamed of a day when his granchildren would be judged "not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." The modern day libs have NEVER even considered that approach.
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