|18 HYPER-RICH FAMILIES BEHIND ESTATE TAX REPEAL
The multimillion-dollar lobbying effort to repeal the federal estate tax
has been aggressively led by 18 super-wealthy families, according to a
report by Public Citizen and United for a Fair Economy. The report
reveals how 18 families worth a total of $185.5 billion have financed
and coordinated a 10-year effort to repeal the estate tax, a move that
would collectively net them a windfall of $71.6 billion.
The report profiles the families and their businesses, which include the
families behind Wal-Mart, Gallo wine, Campbell's soup, and Mars Inc.,
maker of M&Ms. Collectively, the list includes the first- and
third-largest privately held companies in the United States, the richest
family in Alabama and the world's largest retailer.
These families have sought to keep their activities anonymous by using
associations to represent them and by forming a massive coalition of
business and trade associations dedicated to pushing for estate tax
repeal. The report details the groups they have hidden behind -- the
trade associations they have used, the lobbyists they have hired, and
the anti-estate tax political action committees, 527s and organizations
to which they have donated heavily.
In a massive public relations campaign, the families have also misled
the country by giving the mistaken impression that the estate tax
affects most Americans. In particular, they have used small businesses
and family farms as poster children for repeal, saying that the estate
tax destroys both of these groups. But less than one-third of one
percent of all estates will owe any estate taxes in 2006.
"This report exposes one of the biggest con jobs in recent history,"
said Joan Claybrook, president of Public Citizen. "This long-running,
secretive campaign funded by some of the country's wealthiest families
has relied on deception to bamboozle the public not only about who must
pay the estate tax, but about how repealing it will affect the country."
These super-rich families have relied on their fortunes, the resources
of their companies and their business connections to marshal a massive
anti-estate tax juggernaut that has reported nearly a half-billion
dollars in lobbying expenditures ($490.3) since 1998.
The stakes of the campaign are high. If the families' repeal bid
succeeds, they stand to gain $71.6 billion -- and it will cost the U.S.
Treasury about a trillion dollars in the first decade.
Full Report at: http://www.citizen.org/documents/EstateTaxFinal.pdf