Arm pain rampant among House Democrats

Published 8:48 am Wednesday, September 13, 2000

By By Sonny Callahan
U.S. Representative
Here's the headline from last week's news that you didn't see:  Thirteen members of president's party lose arms over death tax'.
Had the headline been written, the story most certainly would have gone something like this:
Election year politics won; the American people lost.
With unprecedented pressure from the White House, 13 members of the president's own party, who in June had voted to end the so-called "death tax," reversed themselves today and instead sided with the president to keep his veto from being overridden.
All 13 members who flip-flopped on the matter were taken to Bethesda Naval Hospital immediately following the vote. 
Many complained of chest pains; most simply said they felt their arms had literally been twisted off after an intense lobbying effort by the White House. 
While I didn't see either the aforementioned headline or story in any of the papers I normally read, this tongue-in-cheek spoof sadly sheds light on the facts as they were.
Make no mistake, the White House put out its best spin effort.  The parody continues:  
This was a bad bill, designed only to favor the rich.  It was risky.  The vice president and I support eliminating the estate tax for poor people and the middle class. But this risky scheme would have eaten up all the projected budget surplus for the next one million years.  
I'm proud of these dedicated statesmen who changed their minds [strike-out betrayed their constituents] by siding with me and the American people.  
America can sleep better tonight, and so can I.  
Now don't get me wrong. I wasn't at all surprised that the White House found enough brave soldiers in their camp who were willing to swallow their pride and change their position.  
After all, this isn't the first time, nor is this the first administration, to ask people to do things they normally wouldn't consider doing, especially when the election year stakes are so high.
But, my friends, this bill, coupled with another piece of legislation the president has also vetoed the "marriage tax" was about as "risky" to the economy and the projected budget surplus as there are hundreds of little green Martians zooming up and down Airport Boulevard in the wee hours of the morning.
You see, at least in my opinion, this bill was about one thing and one thing only: fairness.
Is it really fair for the federal government to come in only minutes after a loved one has died and take up to 55 percent of all that person has worked a lifetime to save and accumulate?
Is that fair?  Is that right?  Is that truly the American way?  
Some people believe it is.  
They have no qualms in expressing the view that Uncle Henry's children didn't do anything to contribute to the estate he accumulated, therefore why should they stand to gain from it.  
Let the federal government take that wealth and spread it among the masses, they argue.
(In case this philosophy sounds familiar, you should dust off the words of the late Soviet leaders Vladimir Lenin and Josef Stalin.  It might make your spine tingle.)
The death tax was created in 1916 to help fund World War II.  Just like the marriage tax, it is now outdated and counterproductive.  
Moreover, roughly 70 percent of all small businesses and family farms won't survive to a second generation, and more than 87 percent won't survive to a third generation, all because of the death tax.
Personally, I am growing tired of all the class warfare that has been waged over the past eight years.
Instead of working to restore some sense of fairness to our monstrous tax code I'd like to see us scrap the current code altogether and replace it with a national sales tax this administration has time and again chosen to protect the interests of big government and the bureaucrats rather than stand up for hardworking American families.
It's a sad but true fact that in an election year, especially when the presidency is on the line, people will say or do anything, even change their vote, to gain some type of political advantage.  
I only hope the American people remember this latest debacle when November rolls around.
Until next week, take care and God Bless.

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