Weatherford Democrat

Viewpoints

January 6, 2013

VIEWPOINT: The fiscal cliff from a rancher’s perspective

By JOE PARKER JR.

Like many of you I learned the importance of financial responsibility at an early age. You simply don’t spend money you don’t have. The money you do have you work for. And if you’re lucky, you might save some of that money for a rainy day or leave it for your kids once you’re gone.

The lessons I was taught at home, at school and at church were all the same. Be good stewards of what God gave you, whether it’s your land, your home or your finances.

These lessons of self responsibility and good stewardship weren’t invented by our elders. They were passed down through generations of hardworking Americans since our founding. It was, in fact, Thomas Jefferson himself that said, “Never spend your money before you have it.”

I guess some Washington politicians have forgotten these lessons, or perhaps they were never taught them in the first place.

Let’s take, for example, the recent fiscal cliff debate.

As you well know, Congress voted to avert the “fiscal cliff.” They did this by shielding 99 percent of taxpayers from a scheduled tax increase, while raising taxes on higher earners making more than $450,000.

The tax package stopped incredibly high tax increases for most Americans.

It also included new permanent amounts for the death tax. Estates worth $5 million or less per person ($10 million per couple) will be exempt from the death tax. Estates worth more than that will pay a 40 percent tax on anything over the exemption level. As an added benefit, these levels are indexed for inflation and also include a stepped-up basis.

This isn’t perfect. We would have liked to see the death tax go away forever. But it is better than the alternative, which would have been a 55 percent tax on anything over a $1 million per person ($2 million per couple) exemption level. These levels would have crushed small ranching families.

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