Mike Kueber's Blog

January 28, 2015

President Obama as Redistributor in Chief

Filed under: Economics,Law/justice — Mike Kueber @ 12:37 am
Tags: ,

Amity Shlaes authored a column in Time magazine this week titled, “Redistributor in Chief.” You might guess she is referring to President Obama, and you would be correct.

Redistribution,” of course, is an ugly term that most conservatives use to tar any proposal that shifts government taxes from poor to rich or any government benefits from rich to poor. Although I style myself a conservative, I believe that each proposal needs to be examined on its merits.

In her column, Shlaes provides a litany of evil Obama proposals, and I agree with her on many of them. But one of her criticisms stuck in my craw:

  • Even more damaging is the President’s plan to kill the “step-up in basis” for inherited wealth. Some non-rich families have a second home somewhere in the woods. Obama’s plan would force many children to sell such a house to pay the taxes due upon a parent’s death.

I blogged about my support for killing the “step-up in basis” when Obama first proposed it. It makes no sense to evade capital-gains taxes merely by passing the property upon death.

But instead of trying to defend the indefensible, Shlaes resorts to a red herring fallacy. How many “non-rich families have a second home in the woods”? Not very many when compared to all of the rich families that evade paying capital gains on appreciated stock by transferring the stock through an estate.

Shlaes’s silly example reminds me of liberals and progressives who argue against Voter-ID laws because there is a widow in west Texas without an ID and she would have to travel over 60 miles to find an agency that could provide her with one.


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