The Herald-Sun has finally covered the Republican Senate effort to repeal the estate tax, but is ignoring investigative reporting opportunities. Our two Senators are supporting repeal — have you asked them why? Perhaps Sen. Richard Burr could identify a North Carolina family that had to sell its farm to cover its estate tax liability, even though the pro-repeal American Farm Bureau couldn’t find one single instance back in 2001 (since then the amount exempted from the tax has been raised dramatically). Perhaps Sen. Elizabeth Dole can identify small businesses that have been hurt. You could interview them to see why the $2 million exemption was inadequate. Perhaps our good senators are friends with (of course they are!) North Carolinians who are among the tiny one-quarter of 1 percent of the entire U.S. population whose wealth is so great they would owe any estate taxes. You could interview some of these families so the public could be appraised of the devastating impacts the estate tax would have upon their family wealth. Finally, perhaps our senators could get an interview with one of the 18 U.S. families that stand to gain $71.6 billion (yes, "billion") if repeal passe. I would hope your reporter would also ask about the amount of campaign contributions our senators have received from these families and the families’ political action committees.
W. DAVID AUSTIN
June 11, 2006
(Click here for the Durham Herald-Sun opinion page)