There is a debate over the future of the estate tax. Should it be permanently abolished? Should it be restored with high rates and low exemption or with low rates and high exemptions? Maybe some compromise?
There are many sides to this debate, and Bloomberg News reporter Ryan Donmoyer tries to cover those sides. This is how Donmoyer, employed as a straight news reporter, handles the opponents of the estate tax:
"What we would very much like to see is an extension of death taxes where they are right now, see an extension of the zero rate," said Dick Patten, president of the group [American Family Business Institute] founded by Alabama lawyer Harold Apolinsky and funded heavily by investment banker Raymond Harbert, the son of a billionaire heiress.
That's fair and helpful context I think, if incomplete. (In the interest of fair disclosure, the foundation related to AFBI paid me to write a paper on the estate tax.)
But how does Donmoyer treat the proponents of the estate tax?
Democrats as diverse as Earl Pomeroy of North Dakota, a member of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition, and Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, who belongs to the Congressional Progressive Caucus, cited the estate tax as a factor in their decisions to oppose Obama’s proposal.
Doesn't it matter that Pomeroy's all-time top source of campaign funds is New York Life, the largest life insurer in the country, and that he was the top House recipient of insurance industry money?
Yes, it does, because, as I point out in the AFBF paper, life insurers have lobbied like crazy to save the estate tax, which drives billions of dollars in business to companies like NY Life every year. Hopefully Donmoyer will mention this dynamic next time he writes about the estate tax fight.
p.s. If you recognize Donmoyer's name it might be from this email he wrote to the liberal JournoList during the health-care debates of 2009:
Ryan Donmoyer Aug 7, 2009, 8:08am
You know, at the risk of violating Godwin’s law, is anyone starting to see parallels here between the teabaggers and their tactics and the rise of the Brownshirts? Esp. Now that it’s getting violent? Reminds me of the Beer Hall fracases of the 1920s.