Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) made a lot of blue-collar Iowans pretty angry last week when he explained his support for the repeal of the estate tax, a massive Republican tax giveaway that benefits no one but thewealthiest 0.2 percent of the country, by claiming that the people who benefit from the repeal are somehow more deserving than everyone else because of their superior morals.
“I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing,” Grassley said, “as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies.”
The tone-deaf Senator proved he had no idea about the realities of the lives that the that majority of his constituents face each day with that statement, and now angry Iowans are showing the Senator what they think of his comments in a sarcastically novel manner.
According to an article on the Iowa Starting Line:
“Non-millionaire Iowans who clearly have wasted too much of their hard-earned money on booze, women and movies descended upon Chuck Grassley’s offices today to deliver empty bottles of alcohol to their esteemed senator.”
“Actually, it was a protest organized by several progressive groups to express voters’ outrage over Grassley’s recent insulting comments aimed at working people. Iowa Citizen Action Network, the Main Street Alliance of Iowa and Americans for Democratic Action Iowa held rallies outside of the senator’s offices in Des Moines and Waterloo this afternoon. Attendees brought empty bottles of booze to mock Grassley’s quote on what the working class spends money on.”
The idea that the reason that most Iowans, or that most Americans for that matter, aren’t affected by the estate tax is because they wasted their hard-earned money on pursuits of pleasure, rather than investing it to become one of the ultra-rich, is incredibly insulting to anyone who earns the median U.S. wage of $59, 039 or less. Senator Grassley’s command of basic math must be sorely lacking, much less the advanced economics that one would hope that someone voting on the tax structure would have.
The current estate tax kicks in on inheritances of $5.5 million for individuals and $11 million for couples. The House and Senate bills double those exemptions to $11 million and $22 million, and the House version abolishes the tax completely in 2024.
To give you an idea of how difficult it would be for the average American to amass a fortune that would be affected by the estate tax, let’s do a simple calculation. Assume that someone who earns $59,039 per year and lives the kind of life of purity and frugality that Senator Grassley espouses needs to use only 65% of that money for living expenses. That would leave them about $1722 per month to stock away and invest, as long as they spend absolutely no money on discretionary spending whatsoever. If they were somehow able to get a consistent 5% return on their money over a 50 year period while contributing an additional $1722 every single month, even with compound interest they would only be able to amass less than $5 million.
The protesters in Iowa didn’t need advanced math to realize that Senator Grassley cares more about his rich donors than the people he is actually supposed to represent.
“We’re like millions of Iowans and Americans who just don’t quite have enough pennies to amass a fortune, but we work hard, we love our families, and we are proud to spend some of our pennies on booze and women and movies,” said Sue Dinsdale at the event in Des Moines.
“We are both elected officials and if I ever thought, yet alone said something so sexist, elitist, and arrogant I would immediately turn in my resignation,” said Black Hawk County Supervisor Chris Schwartz in Waterloo. “You can’t do your job as an elected official if you have such a low opinion of the people you represent.”
Well, Senator Grassley, the gauntlet has been thrown. When shall we expect your resignation?