Copley News Service, 04/11/2001
In a week when President George W. Bush’s tax cut plan suffered major setbacks in the Senate, 49 leading African-American businessmen and businesswomen, including Bob Johnson of BET, Earl Graves of Black Enterprise magazine and Alice Houston of Automotive Carrier Services, took out an ad in newspapers across America to urge Congress to repeal the “death tax.” Ironically, this ad makes the case better than the president’s own party has made it.
As these leading African-American entrepreneurs point out, “The estate tax will cause many of the more than 1 million black-owned family businesses to fail or be sold when the 55 percent estate tax is imposed on already undercapitalized minority-owned businesses. The entire black community suffers when these minority-and family-run businesses that provide jobs and services in underserved communities are forced to shut down to pay the estate tax.”
As first-generation, risk-taking capitalists who have earned their wealth the hard way, these business leaders understand the profound impact of tax incentives and penalties. Their arguments also dramatize why the capital gains tax rate should come down, as well, because that tax locks in assets that could realize greater value if put in play in the marketplace.
These business leaders who have struggled long and hard to achieve economic success don’t say a word about tax rebates, refunds, lockboxes or budget caps. What they care about is the true economic effect of destructive taxes on jobs, businesses, savings and the economic aspirations of Americans of all races and backgrounds who want a better life for themselves and their families.
If the administration’s tax proposal had been expressed in these terms from the beginning, and had Republicans spent more time reminding us of these profound truths about federal taxes, they would not now be in the position of trying to negotiate with themselves and with senators who would rather retire debt than help American entrepreneurs grow this struggling U.S. economy.