Tomorrow, 2012 GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is slated to give a “major spending policy speech” at Americans For Prosperity’s Defending the American Dream Summit. Both the conference and AFP itself are funded by money from the billionaire Koch brothers.
Romney has, of late, been trying to claim the economic plan he put forth is meant to aid the middle-class, not those in the Koch brothers’ tax bracket. “I want to focus on where the people are hurting the most, and that’s the middle class. I’m not worried about rich people. They are doing just fine,” Romney said at a GOP debate last month. Yesterday, he even tried to claim “I’m proposing no tax cuts for the rich.”
Leaving aside that Romney intends to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, he has proposed a huge giveaway to the very rich by suggesting the complete elimination of the estate tax. Only the very richest households in the country ever have to pay the estate tax, since, right now, an estate must be worth more than $5 million (or $10 million for a couple) to pay any estate tax at all.
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Currently, more than half of the estate tax is paid by the richest 0.1 percent of households. And according to a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation, the Koch brothers heirs’ would save a combined $17.4 billion in estate taxes thanks to Romney’s plan.
Each of the Koch brothers — Charles and David — is worth about $25 billion. They are each married, so they would receive an exemption on the first $10 million that they pass down, and then theirs heirs would pay a 35 percent tax, or $8.7 billion, on the rest of their vast fortunes.
Now, this is an exceedingly rough calculation, as it’s almost certain that the Koch’s have engaged in extensive estate planning and would pay nowhere near that amount. But 35 percent is the rate on the books, and Romney’s plan to eliminate the estate tax entirely would undeniably save the Kochs a boatload of money.
David Koch actually hosted one of the first fundraisers of Romney’s current bid for the White House, and according to the Romney campaign, the Kochs are the “financial engines of the Tea Party.” Though Romney claims to be “not worried” about the rich, the actual policies he’s proposed would do a lot to ensure that the Kochs’ never have to pay their fair share.