This November, Kevin Mannix wants Oregon voters to pass a new tax break for the richest 2% of Oregonians— forcing hundreds of millions in cuts to schools, senior care, and other state services. His measure would repeal the Estate Tax, which would only benefit estates worth more than $1 million. It would also create a massive new tax loophole that would allow rich families to avoid paying taxes on their wealth. (Read more about the bad policy here.)
Mannix is the one bringing this terrible idea to Oregon, but it’s not an original concept. This is part of a nationwide coordinated effort by lobbyists for large corporations and the rich to cut taxes for the wealthy—even while states are struggling just to keep school doors open. This all-out effort is a major part of the strategy on the right to increase the amount of wealth concentration at the very top, while the middle-class plummets.
Here’s who’s driving this effort across the country:
ALEC: The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is an organization that serves to pair up elected officials with representatives from oil, tobacco, banking, and other corporate interests, providing an opportunity for corporations to write state laws and deliver them directly into the hands of the those politicians. Last year, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) discovered a trove of 800 “model bills” that big corporations like ExxonMobil and Bank of America wrote and sent back to state Legislatures around the nation.
While we know ALEC has several Oregon members, we don’t know the full extent of ALEC’s involvement in Oregon politics and with Oregon politicians. What we do know, though, is that the corporate interests at ALEC crafted a model bill directing state legislatures to resolve a repeal of the federal Estate tax. Turns out, the resolution’s talking points are nearly identical to Mannix’s campaign talking points.
The fact that Mannix is carrying an ALEC-inspired proposal shouldn’t be surprising. For many years, Mannix has pushed for Oregon to adopt the so-called “Stand Your Ground” law that ALEC got passed in numerous states—including Florida, where it led to the death of Trayvon Martin.
The Koch Brothers: One of the most active nation-wide organizations that works to repeal the estate tax around the nation is the Policy & Taxation Group. Not only does this group work to abolish the federal estate tax, they also work to “coordinate the efforts of other tax reform organizations to eliminate the duplication of effort and present consistent data” (from the Policy & Taxation Group website.) If the Policy & Taxation Group was involved in Mannix’s efforts, why wouldn’t he reveal this partnership? Probably because a report by Public Citizen and United for a Fair Economy identifies the individuals behind the group – including Charles and David Koch.
We don’t know the extent to which these national groups are funding Mannix, because he’s hiding the identities of his political donors. But it’s clear that giving the wealthy a major estate tax break is part of a concerted effort to let the rich get richer, while the rest of us pay the costs.