Thursday, April 14, 2005

Blame DC GOP for CTA, public school cuts. And welcome to the Capitol Mark Brown!

State and local governments around the nation are in the red and are laying off teachers. The CTA might have to cutservice dramatically which would be really bad for our economy. And what do the federal Republicans do to help out? Cut taxes for the children of the rich. Yesterday the House passed a bill to permanently repeal the estate tax which only affects the children of people who pass on more than a million five. You know, the people who are hurting. Inherited wealth. It's tough out there for those kids, and when it comes time to choosing between everyone in the Chicago region by reinstating federal operating support for mass transit and people like Paris Hilton, the House GOP consistently picks the children of the wealthy. Smart! Remember that idea of equal opportunity so anyone in America has a decent chance at moving up? Ahhh, forget it. That stuff is expensive! Good public schools and modern transit costs so much and we'd have to tax Paris Hilton to pay for it. How could we ever do that? Anyway, check out Mark Brown's column in the Sun-Times today. It's the first time since Carol Marin in February came down that a major columnist had a Springfield dateline, so congratulations to him. Maybe the Chicago papers ought to hire a columnist to work here and help make sense of what's going on to their readers. . . . .you think? And after Zorn just justifiably made fun of the Sun-Times lame attempt to cover blogs, maybe they ought to hire a blogger. . . . . I'm sure about a dozen of us would jump at the chance.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

"It's the first time since Carol Marin in February came down that a major columnist had a Springfield dateline, so congratulations to him."

What about Doug Finke? Or Bernie Schoenberg? Or Rich Miller? Careful, Dan, you're about to shoot yourself in the foot with this one.

"Maybe the Chicago papers ought to hire a columnist to work here and help make sense of what's going on to their readers. . . . ."

Like Ray Long? Or Christi Parson? Or Dave McKinney? Gees, Dan; go get that foot bandaged before you make a real mess around here.

Anonymous said...

The Hilton family fortune is about $550 million, of which Paris Hilton gets $30 million. So raising the exemption to $1.5 million doesn't help Paris. It does, however, help middle class families and independent farmers who regularly build estates in excess of $600,000 (the former limit) over a lifetime. Like the Alternative Minimum Tax, the Estate Tax today operates to penalize middle class families whose primary income is a salary or farming profits. Another way to think of these families is to call them the "GOP Base." Super-rich liberals like the Hiltons, Soros, Buffett and the Kennedy's could care less about the Estate Tax because they can afford complicated tax-avoidance schemes. Likewise the poor and working-poor are not affected. But everyone else is and that's why the GOP has made this a winning issue. As a side note, I'd be seriously interested in the Progressives' philosophical justification for seizing after-tax wealth generated by a free person over a lifetime. - CF

Dan Johnson-Weinberger said...

Anon 1 - this is not the first time I'm not clear enough. I meant to say Chicago columnist, so all the excellent columnists that I read online working in the press room don't count. And all the excellent Chicago reporters working in the press room also do not count, though they of course do help their readers understand what's going on. I think a columnist has a special and unique role in a newspaper and it bothers me that neither major Chicago paper hires a columnist to work here. Maybe I have a soft spot for columnists who are freed from the arbitrary limitations of conventional 'objective' journalism - conventions that often obfuscate rather than enlighten. I mean, John Kass is a better columnist than a reporter. So I mean no slight to anyone working in the second and a half floor. I just want more well-read columnists writing from the Capitol. And CF - I'll get to you later, but remember the estate tax hits the kids, not the dead parent, so we aren't double-taxing anything. That is new income or wealth for the kid.

Amy Allen said...

I presume you would support a formula change?
It was the federal gov't that warned the CTA not to pursue the ill fated "Brown Line renovation." Krusei has acknowledged that the CTA blatantly sedited this advice, and is now "in a pickle." I'll say.

Stephen said...

My impression is most of the mega-wealthy bypass estate taxes much as they bypass personal income taxes. Am I wrong? For example, does anyone know how much estate tax someone like Hilton's parents paid when the elder Hilton died?

ChicagoJason said...

Anonymous (any particular reason, by the way, that you're hiding from your positions, A?) said that he/she is seriously interested in the Progressives' philosophical justification for seizing after-tax wealth generated by a free person over a lifetime.

Let's try this one.

If a democratic society decides that it is 1) unhealthy to allow huge concentrations of wealth to accumulate to so few individuals, 2) that this decision therefore necessitates a high tax on the personal estates of those wealthy individuals upon death, 3) that said individuals' heirs still receive significant inheritances, and 4) the tax in question has the virtue of generating a great deal of revenue by affecting a mere fraction of the population, exactly that fraction most able to afford high taxes--exactly how and why is all this so bad again?

P.S. There should indeed be some exemptions or other means to keep family farms and businesses intact. But ditching the entire estate tax? That's tossing the baby out with the bath water.

Anonymous said...

CF (and others who oppose the estate tax)-
I've heard that once the estate tax is repealed (should say if), then heirs will be required to pay capital gains and other taxes as if they were the deceased. All those who die in 2010, for instance, will not pay estate taxes, but their heirs will have to pay taxes as if the decedant had sold everything the day before they died. True? And if so, isn't the estate tax a simpler way of calculating all that?

fearofblog said...

Relying on the state and federal government to fund mass transit in Cook County is exactly the problem. There is more than enough wealth concentrated in Cook County to fund the system on its own. I'm not saying we should not apply for federal & state grants for major projects...that's different...but what do we in Cook County gain by sending a bunch of money earmarked for transit to the state for them to decide where it goes. We should not revise the transit funding formula, we should eliminate it.

Anonymous said...

We don't rely on "the state" to fund transit in the Chicago metro area, we rely on the RTA, which was created by state law. So now that that law is showing its age (22 and counting), it's time to fix it so that the region can pay for itself again. And didn't Julie Hamos' committee say that the REAL problem is that Cook County is paying not just for it's own transit, but for all of those Metra extensions way out into the collar counties? If they want them, they should pay for them too.