Income inequality is a huge issue for Democrats, one the extremely wealthy Hillary Clinton will need to be a little less tone-deaf about if she decides to seek her party’s nomination for president in 2016.
A couple of weeks ago, Mrs. Clinton told ABC News’ Diane Sawyer that she and husband, former President Bill Clinton, were “dead broke” when they left the White House in 2001. When the entire universe, it seemed, called Mrs. Clinton out on her hyperbole, she said the comment “may have not been the most artful way” of describing the couple’s financial status at the time. To say the least.
Then, this past Sunday, in an interview with the British newspaper The Guardian, Mrs. Clinton said that Americans “don’t see me as part of the problem” of income inequality because she and Mr. Clinton “pay ordinary income tax, unlike a lot of people who are truly well off, not to name names, and we’ve done it through dint of hard work.”
One would assume the Clintons, one day, also will end up paying the estate tax. The estate tax exists to attack income inequality. The Clintons have long been proponents of higher taxes on the estates of the nation’s most wealthy, once they pass away and hand down assets to their heirs. Without the estate tax, Hillary Clinton has said, the country could become “dominated by inherited wealth.”
The couple’s speaking and book income has helped them build quite the estate. Mrs. Clinton will collect $225,000 just to deliver the keynote speech at the UNLV Foundation’s Oct. 13 fundraising dinner at Bellagio. As it stands, the federal government would claim 40 percent of that estate, after exemptions.
But it turns out the Clintons don’t want Washington to take so much of their fortune. Their desire to transfer the vast majority of their estate to daughter Chelsea and any other heirs has led them to try to dodge the death tax they’ve long touted.
As reported last week by Bloomberg News, federal financial disclosure and local property records show the Clintons created residence trusts in 2010 and shifted ownership of their New York house into them the following year. The shift could help the former first couple save hundreds of thousands of dollars in estate taxes. To be fair, the Clintons are not the first liberal hypocrites to utilize this two-faced approach. Billionaire Bill Gates created a charitable trust, and fellow billionaire Warren Buffett, an estate tax champion, has committed much of his fortune to it. The Kennedy family, while pushing the estate tax, has long employed similar tax-reducing tactics.
Why do they do this? Because they know our tax laws are not in their best interests. And because even big-government proponents like them know that big government ultimately will squander their wealth.
Mrs. Clinton wants us to believe that she and Mr. Clinton were “dead broke” upon leaving the White House, yet now they have the resources to hire the tax and legal expertise needed to shelter their substantial wealth?
At the same time, countless family-owned businesses have been sold because the estate tax made it too expensive to hand them down.
The very wealthy don’t pay estate taxes, or pay a very reduced estate tax bill, because only the very wealthy can afford the work required to avoid them. If Mrs. Clinton doesn’t want to pay estate taxes, why doesn’t she just campaign to abolish them so no one has to?