Demagogues were rampant in the Senate last week, forcing votes on two inflammatory and meritless proposals. The yahoos were turned back both times, and Sen. Mark Pryor helped with the turning. The state’s largest newspaper, evidently disapproving of courage and common sense in an elected official, responded with an editorial critical of Arkansas’s junior senator. Pryor’s colleague, Sen. Blanche Lincoln, could summon only enough valor for one roll call, caving pitifully on the other.
Lincoln voted for the proposed repeal of the estate tax. The super-rich and their legislative arm, the Republican Party, have long agitated for repeal, misrepresenting the tax as a “vicious” form of double taxation that necessitates the sale of family farms and family businesses. But 99 percent of all estates aren’t large enough to be subject to the tax, and the forced sale of family farms that Lincoln bleats about is entirely illusionary. On the other hand, the contributions to charity encouraged by the estate tax are very real, and their loss will be very painfully felt if the tax is repealed.
“Double taxation” is not unconstitutional, immoral or unusual. The paychecks of millions of American workers are taxed more than once. The important principle of fair taxation is that it be based on ability to pay. By that measure, the estate tax is the keystone of a progressive tax system.
Repeal of the estate tax would cost hundreds of billions of dollars that are now used for health care, education, defense and other programs. As Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families says, “If the estate tax were repealed, the wealthiest would benefit while those who are less well off would be left to make up the deficit or bear the brunt of a higher national debt.” This is more of the class warfare that President Bush has waged ruthlessly. And far more effectively than the war in Iraq.
The other vote was on a brutal proposition to amend the Constitution by banning same-sex marriages nationwide. Many states, including Arkansas, already have their own laws prohibiting same-sex marriages, but the most ardent homophobes fear that some gay couple somewhere may yet be living in peace. Members of Congress who support the amendment do so from political not religious convictions. They devoutly believe that “gay marriage” can be used to advantage in the upcoming elections. Karl Rove, the chief Republican strategist, has said as much. Such people would embed discrimination in the United States Constitution, transforming that great protector of individual liberties into a tool for persecution of the individual.
Pryor and Lincoln joined 41 other senators in voting against the amendment. An alarming forty-nine senators voted for it, though that was still short of the 60 needed to advance the amendment further.



Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

More by Arkansas Times Staff

Most Shared

Latest in Editorials

  • The end of an era

    We're sad to report that Doug Smith has decided to retire. Though he's been listed as an associate editor on our masthead for the last 22 years, he has in fact been the conscience of the Arkansas Times. He has written all but a handful of our unsigned editorials since we introduced an opinion page in 1992.
    • May 8, 2014
  • A stand for equality

    Last week, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel became the first elected statewide official to express support for same-sex marriage. His announcement came days before Circuit Judge Chris Piazza is expected to rule on a challenge to the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Soon after, a federal challenge of the law is expected to move forward. McDaniel has pledged to "zealously" defend the Arkansas Constitution but said he wanted the public to know where he stood.
    • May 8, 2014
  • Same old, same old

    Remarking as we were on the dreariness of this year's election campaigns, we failed to pay sufficient tribute to the NRA, one of the most unsavory and, in its predictability, dullest of the biennial participants in the passing political parade.
    • May 1, 2014
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

1.73-carat diamond found at Crater of Diamonds State Park

1.73-carat diamond found at Crater of Diamonds State Park

Jack Pearadin and Doug Nelsen found a 1.73-carat diamond after nearly a year of searching the park's field.

Event Calendar

« »


1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31  

Most Viewed

  • A heart in this house

    Since Election Day, I have been at a loss as to how to direct my energy. I am spinning in circles.
  • Putin and Trump

    Here's a thought exercise: What do you suppose would happen if Russian strongman Vladimir Putin decided to clarify remarks he reportedly made about Donald Trump during the election campaign?
  • Pork and more

    Some notes on disparate topics before I take a vacation break.
  • Trumpeting

    When President-elect Trump announced he would, in a few days, force Congress to enact comprehensive health insurance for everyone, poor or rich, that would provide better and cheaper care than they've ever gotten, you had to wonder whether this guy is a miracle worker or a fool.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: A week of 'thunderbolts'

    • So poignant. Often, leaders come and go, only to fade into the chapters of history…

    • on January 18, 2017
  • Re: Hillbillies

    • Investigator, you're like an old record that skips and keeps repeating over and over and…

    • on January 18, 2017
  • Re: Hillbillies

    • Oh Pshaw. I never criticized her "affectionate feelings" for her children - in fact I…

    • on January 18, 2017

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation