When it comes to the so-called death tax, there is a “world of difference” between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, according to Jim Martin, the founder and chairman of the 60 Plus Association for conservative seniors.
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV following a 60 Plus event for senior GOP delegates at the Republican National Convention, Martin said the Obama administration favors increasing the tax — which amounts to a tax on inheritance — while Romney would abolish it.
“Clearly the death tax is something that we have fought to repeal, to get rid of it. We say, ‘Kill it, don’t wound it,’” insisted Martin, who popularized the "death tax" moniker for the estate tax. “Every time they fiddle around with it, they make work for lawyers and accountants. But the other side — they’re for keeping it because it brings in some revenue that the government feels that they can spend better than the rightful owners.”
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If re-elected, Obama plans to increase the death tax to 55 percent on estates valued at $1 million and higher. The tax now stands at 35 percent on estates valued at $5 million and higher, according to Martin, who called the tax “immoral” and unpopular among seniors, who often worry about being able to leave something behind for their children.
“Study after study shows if you leave the money with the rightful heirs, they’ll do one of a couple things,” Martin said. “They’ll either use it to expand existing businesses or use it to start up new businesses.”
While Democrats insist that the tax is aimed primarily at wealthy Americans, Martin believes the truly wealthy have ways to avoid it.
“The truly rich set up trusts and foundations,” he said. “It’s small businessmen — farmers, entrepreneurs, all over Florida, all over the country — that don’t have the financial capital lying around to spend on lawyers and accountants to set up trusts” who are most affected.
Martin said the death tax treats the government like an heir.
“After all, you paid taxes while you’re alive. And then when you pass away Uncle Sam wants to tax you again while you’re lying . . . cold and dead in the grave,” he explained. “We say that’s an immoral thing to do — to have the first person in line after you pass away is Uncle Sam. He’s not even a blood relative.”
Martin also accused the Obama campaign of “demagogueing” Paul Ryan with attack ads regarding his plans to reform Medicare. The ads quote AARP as saying that Ryan’s plan would undermine Medicare and could lead to higher costs for seniors.
“Absolutely false,” Martin countered. “They’re demagogueing Congressman Ryan. They do it every election cycle, trying to scare us old folks in the voting booth. It’s not working anymore. They are using the AARP’s words.”
Acknowledging that there is waste, fraud, and abuse in the entitlement program, Martin said, “That’s part of the problem (but) that clearly is not the entire problem.”
Despite claims of being nonpartisan, AARP has a liberal agenda, according to Martin.
“We make it very clear up front that we come from a right-of-center, limited-government, less-taxes and adherence-to-the-Constitution viewpoint. And the AARP . . . comes from a very far-left position. It’s that simple. They’re liberal. We’re conservative.”
Martin, whose organization has 790,000 members in Florida and 7.2 million nationwide, believes Florida will be "ground-zero" for seniors in this fall's election. The organization’s spokesman, legendary singer Pat Boone, predicted in an earlier interview that seniors will decide the next president.
Martin said that seniors aren’t buying President Obama’s rhetoric.
“Senior citizens are not being scared into the voting booth anymore by these attacks by the Democrats that they’re going to take away Medicare,” he said. “The fact is Congressman Ryan (and) the governor have a plan to save it for future retirees. It has nothing to do with current retirees like myself.”
Martin also accused the media of being unnecessarily hard on Missouri Republican Todd Akin in the aftermath of his highly publicized comments on rape.
“He apologized for it time and time again,” Martin said of Akin. “But the media is just going to bang away at that and so will the White House, because they’ve got nothing else to do.”
He said that the president would rather talk about things other than his record.
“The president cannot defend his record of joblessness (and) unemployment,” asserted Martin. “The fact is that the unemployment rate and inflation has been just 40-some months in a row. . . But he doesn’t want to talk about that.”
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