A WEEK AND A half ago, Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas took to the Senate floor to decry the estate tax as unfair. "I, for one, intend to fight for these family businesses, fight for these communities and fight for these jobs in rural America," she preached. It was all very moving. Especially if you stand to inherit an enormous fortune.
That same day, Lincoln again appeared on the Senate floor, this time to decry the lack of funding for federal anti-hunger programs. This too was unfair. Lincoln was particularly nonplused by the counter-argument that there was insufficient money for such programs.
"I understand our current budget constraints. I know we all do," she said, "Yet I didn't create this mess."
Oh, you didn't? Let's look at the main causes of the budget mess. There's the 2001 tax cuts. Lincoln voted for those. There's the war in Iraq. Lincoln voted for that too. There's the Medicare prescription drug benefit, which she likewise supported. Other than that, how did you like the budget, Mrs. Lincoln?
...So Lincoln doesn't want rich heirs to pay any inheritance tax on their windfall. She wants middle- and lower-income workers to pay lower taxes as well. And she doesn't want to slash the federal budget. So, who does she want to pay more in taxes? This is the question estate tax foes who aren't rabid conservatives never answer: Name the group of people who you want to pay higher taxes so that the heirs of the very rich can pay less. They don't answer because their vision of government is incoherent.