4.14.2005

1 More Reason to Keep the Estate Tax

Frank Luntz wants you to call it the 'death tax' and so many Americans do even when it won't ever be applied to them or their families, but here's one more good reason to get rid of it: the Wal-Mart folks hate it. Yes, that's right: if being sick of Paris Hilton wasn't enough, look how the Wal(-Mart)tons have been pushing for it...

Now, in a little-noticed move, the company's founding family has plunged into a fight to pass income tax changes and other legislation that could preserve its grip on the USA's biggest business and the family's $84 billion fortune.

Led by Sam Walton's only daughter, Alice, the family spent $3.2 million on lobbying, conservative causes and candidates for last year's federal elections. That's more than double what it spent in the previous two elections combined, public documents show.

The Waltons have joined a coterie of wealthy families trying to save fortunes through permanent repeal of the estate tax, government watchdogs say. The election of President Bush and more conservatives to Congress gave momentum to the long-fought effort. The Waltons add more.

"To see the wealthiest family in America weighing in is scary," says Chuck Collins, co-founder of Responsible Wealth, a non-profit group that tracks the super-rich.

[snip]

The Walton support for Bush and other fiscal conservatives assumed new urgency last month when Wal-Mart sweetened its dividend — boosting Walton dividend income above $1 billion a year. Bush's dividend tax cut, enacted two years ago and set to expire in 2009, will save the family as much as $51 million this year.

The growing Walton political prowess is a departure from patriarch "Mr. Sam," who disliked politics. Moreover, their largesse isn't limited to the national stage. In 2002-2004, the family gave $879,000 to state campaigns from California to Florida, says the Institute on Money in State Politics. The biggest gift, $250,000, went to the Republican Party of Florida, whose titular head is Bush's brother, Gov. Jeb Bush.
Remember folks: you should never, EVER, shop at Wal-Mart because they almost single-handedly keep American wages down.

Lots more online from the Philly Daily News (we used to live in Philly! YAY Cheesesteaks!) about Rick Santorum and his unusually close relationship with Wal-mart and his disintegrating one with Pennsylvania... Read & think for yourselves.

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