Flack For Corporate Families Falsely Claims Estate Tax Will Cripple Small Businesses

Today, Jeff Cook of the Policy and Taxation Group appeared on CNBC opposite CAPAF’s Michael Ettlinger, and went on a misleading tirade against the estate tax. Cook argued that the estate tax hits “family businesses directly,” causing the loss of “millions of American jobs.”

He also called Ettlinger’s completely accurate number of actual small businesses subject to the estate tax “absurd,” while characterizing Sens. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and Jon Kyl’s (R-AZ) proposal to turn the estate tax into a $250 billion giveaway to the rich as a “moderate, mainstream” idea. Watch it:

Labeling the estate tax as crippling for small businesses is a common conservative tactic with no basis in reality. The Tax Policy Center has found that about 100 small businesses and family farms would be subject to the estate tax under President Barack Obama’s proposal, which would tax estates over $7 million at a 45 percent rate. And according to the Congressional Budget Office, almost all “small businesses” affected by the estate tax “are able to pay the tax bill without having to sell business assets.”

As Ettlinger said, Cook’s argument amounts to “flacking for the Paris Hiltons, the rich heirs and heiresses who have nothing to do with small businesses.” Indeed, Cook is one of two listed members of the Policy and Taxation Group, the other of which is Patricia Soldano, who has been crusading against the estate tax for decades. And Soldano is not funded by small businesses, but by extremely wealthy corporate families:

A little-known Southern California estate planner named Patricia Soldano launched her [estate tax] repeal effort with the backing of about 50 wealthy clients, with the Gallo and Mars families leading the way. Other contributors included the heirs of the Campbell soup and Krystal hamburger fortunes. Frank Blethen, whose family controls the Seattle Times Co., was also pivotal.

According to Congress Watch, Soldano likely represents many mega-millionaire and billionaire families, but “since 2000, Soldano has chosen to mask her clients’ identities by reporting the Policy and Taxation Group as lobbying on its own behalf.” “We don’t disclose our membership to anybody,” she says. Since 2001, the Policy and Taxation group has reported more than $4 million in lobbying income.