by Max Brantley
The Arkansas Leader has endorsed Bill Halter for U.S. Senate.
Halter is a harder choice because we don’t care for his single achievement as a public official in Arkansas, the state lottery.
The lieutenant governor does not have a chance to do great deeds, but Halter went out of his way to do harm when he engineered a ballot position and a resounding vote for the lottery in 2008.
How differently he will perform as a senator from Lincoln we cannot be sure, but he indicated that he would have voted the opposite on all those initiatives of the Bush administration that turned federal budget surpluses into the mammoth deficits and converted the most buoyant economy in the nation’s history into the worst in 70 years. Neither do we believe that he will be at the service of people of great wealth and the petroleum and coal industries, which have pumped fortunes into the campaign of Lincoln.
This was written before Halter's stirring defense yesterday of the estate tax and Lincoln's defense of a multi-billion-dollar tax break for a handful of the richest people in America. (More and more I have begun to suspect that one of them, say one of the Kochs, is behind the anonymous smear-Halter TV onslaught.) I'd also call here for Lincoln to reveal that struggling forest products family she invoked in the debate with Halter. That family got 15 years and a low government interest rate, courtesy of existing preferences for giant agri enterprises, to pay off an ancestor's estate tax bill and Lincoln thinks that's a hardship. I'd like to see some figures on that estate, their tax burden and the family's current net worth. My guess for the mystery embattled taxpayer would be that son of toil, John Ed Anthony. Back when he was testifying in Congress about this, his family was down to its last 250,000 acres of timberland. Those are the family farmers Lincoln champions. (Teacher retirement just bought 5,000 acres in South Arkansas for $6 million. Times 50 and you're talking real money, not counting the mills, etc.)
UPDATE: Halter hit radio today with an ad to capitalize on Lincoln's statement on the estate tax and, less fairly, on an ambiguous statement she made about Social Security. I wish the estate tax would move voters; I'm afraid the Big Lie about the "death tax" (millions think erroneously they must pay such a levy) has reduced the potency of the issue.