Death by a Thousand Cuts: The Fight over Taxing Inherited Wealth

Death by a Thousand Cuts: The Fight over Taxing Inherited Wealth

by Michael J. Graetz
     
 

ISBN-10: 0691127891

ISBN-13: 9780691127897

Pub. Date: 07/24/2006

Publisher: Princeton University Press

This fast-paced book by Yale professors Michael Graetz and Ian Shapiro unravels the following mystery: How is it that the estate tax, which has been on the books continuously since 1916 and is paid by only the wealthiest two percent of Americans, was repealed in 2001 with broad bipartisan support? The mystery is all the more striking because the repeal was not

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Overview

This fast-paced book by Yale professors Michael Graetz and Ian Shapiro unravels the following mystery: How is it that the estate tax, which has been on the books continuously since 1916 and is paid by only the wealthiest two percent of Americans, was repealed in 2001 with broad bipartisan support? The mystery is all the more striking because the repeal was not done in the dead of night, like a congressional pay raise. It came at the end of a multiyear populist campaign launched by a few individuals, and was heralded by its supporters as a signal achievement for Americans who are committed to the work ethic and the American Dream.

Graetz and Shapiro conducted wide-ranging interviews with the relevant players: members of congress, senators, staffers from the key committees and the Bush White House, civil servants, think tank and interest group representatives, and many others. The result is a unique portrait of American politics as viewed through the lens of the death tax repeal saga. Graetz and Shapiro brilliantly illuminate the repeal campaign's many fascinating and unexpected turns--particularly the odd end result whereby the repeal is slated to self-destruct a decade after its passage. They show that the stakes in this fight are exceedingly high; the very survival of the long standing American consensus on progressive taxation is being threatened.

Graetz and Shapiro's rich narrative reads more like a political drama than a conventional work of scholarship. Yet every page is suffused by their intimate knowledge of the history of the tax code, the transformation of American conservatism over the past three decades, and the wider political implications of battles over tax policy.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691127897
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
07/24/2006
Edition description:
With a New epilogue by the authors
Pages:
392
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.10(d)

Table of Contents


An American Story 1

1. A Political Mystery 3

2. Genesis of the Repeal Coalition 12

3. Squall or Sea Change? 24

4. An Opportunity Missed 32

5. An Advocate for the Working Rich 41

6. Stories from the Grasstops 50

7. Changing the Face for Repeal 62

8. Talking the Talk 74

9. Exploiting the Think Tank Gap 85

10. Disorganized Democrats 99

11. Pushing against an Open Door 107

12. The Running Room of Public Opinion 119

The Battle for Passage 131

13. The Missing Link 133

14. Building a Strong Offense 143

15. The Birth of a New Coalition 154

16. Billionaires Battle 168

17. Paint-by-Numbers Lawmaking 178

18. The Final Four 194

19. Winners, Losers, and Uncertainty 206

Lessons Learned and Missed 219

20. Stories Trump Science 221

21. Money, Money, Money 239

22. Morals of the Mysteries 253

23. Another Storm Gathering 266

Epilogue 279

Glossary 283

Bibliographic Essay 293

Acknowledgments 357

Index 359

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