Jeff Sessions: "Looking for a Corpse"?
Over the weekend an internet story at Time.com revealed Alabama senator Jeff Sessions' attempt to use the damage left from Hurricane Katrina to press for an end to the estate (i.e. death) tax. GOP leaders had shelved a vote on ending the estate tax in the wake of the hurricane. The Republican leadership didn't like the image of the Senate giving a big tax break to the most wealthy, while many in New Orleans and elsewhere went without necessities.
Sessions and some of his fellow GOP firebrands were frustrated with this decision and sought to find a Hurricane-afflicted face to put on their effort to permanently end the estate tax. The article has a direct quote from Sessions,
""[Arizona Sen.] Jon Kyl and I were talking about the estate tax. If we knew anybody that owned a business that lost life in the storm, that would be something we could push back with."The article did not say if Sessions' obituary search was able to locate such an individual, but the odds were probably not in his favor. In 2003 only 410 Alabama estates were subject to the estate tax.
Sessions responded to the Time story in the Birmingham News. Sessions say his behavior was not exploitative, but instead pointed a finger at the estate tax repeal opponents. However, he did not back down from his point of view,
"If somebody had died during this storm ... and their business was substantially damaged and the revenue was lost, ... a counterargument would be, how can these business owners ever recover if they pay a 45 percent death tax?"Sessions is and has always been a strident conservative. No one is taking issue with Sessions' policy positions, but rather the callous manner in which he is pursuing them.
At best Jeff Sessions was politically tone deaf and at worst he is an exploitative ideologue using the hurricane battered coast to benefit a small, wealthy elite. You make the call.