Craig Shirley Does the Disabled

Conservative PR pro Craig Shirley has created a new front group called "Disabled Americans for Death Tax Relief," which recently ran full-page ads in the Wall Street Journal and Washington Times, urging Congress to abolish the federal estate tax. DADTR claims that millions of Americans would be adversely affected by the tax which the federal government places on estates over $650,000. This argument is absurd, as disabled activists Marta Russell and Andrew Batavia point out: "The claim is that millions of individuals have left major estates for the medical expenses of their children or relatives with disabilities, and these estates are being taxed away. This contention simply is not plausible. The estate tax is a tax imposed only on extremely wealthy individuals when they die -- less than 2% of taxpayers (representing fewer than 43,000 estates in 1997) pay this tax. And two-thirds of the estate tax is paid by the richest 0.2% of taxpayers. While it is true that many disabled persons have major health care expenses, the vast majority are from families of modest means. It is certain that a very small percentage of the disabled population receives inheritances from estates above the current $675,000 exclusion. ... Using disabled people to front for the interests of the wealthiest members of our society is an outrage and a disgrace."