As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Chart Of The Day

Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and Jon Kyl (D-AZ) teamed up today to offer a budget amendment that would offer $250 billion dollars in tax cuts to families that inherit estates worth over $7 million dollars. Tremayne at Open Left links to this chart showing just exactly who this tax policy would affect.

Hard to see it, but those with annual incomes in the millions are represented by the vertical red line on the left and those making less than a million (i.e., almost everyone) are the horizontal red line on the bottom. Lincoln and Kyle are concerned about the people on the vertical red line. Actually, as the OpEd piece linked above points out, the concern is not for everyone on the vertical red line but only the wealthiest of those wealthy.

Why would Lincoln, a Democrat, be so concerned about that tiny and very wealthy segment of the population I wondered.

This is not so hard to find, and Tremayne was able to locate the source of Lincoln's concern, which begins with Wal and ends with Mart.

But, are there any rich people at all in Arkansas? Turns out there are. Here are the richest 5 families there:

1. Sam Walton Family (Wal-Mart, inheritance)

2. Witt and Jack Stephens Family (finance)

3. Charles Murphy Family (oil, etc.)

4. Winthrop Paul Rockefeller Family (inheritance money, ha ha)

5. Don Tyson Family (chicken)

I wonder, does Blanche Lincoln have any connections to these rich families? Is that why she is so concerned about them she is cosponsoring an amendment that won't help hardly anyone else? Hmmm.

A little more Googling around and I found this, the list of the top 5 contributors to Blanche Lincoln's reelection campaign:

Stephens Group: $34,200
DaVita Inc: $32,000
Wal-Mart Stores: $25,800
Tyson Foods: $24,750
Goldman Sachs: $24,000

Very interesting. Let's see if there is any overlap with the above list of rich families. Hey, lookie there: 3 of the top four contributors are also on the top five wealthiest families in Arkansas. How about that?

I don't think it even has to be that complicated. The Walton family wields tremendous power in Arkansas that can be measured well beyond campaign contributions, and Lincoln has an interest in ensuring their ability to hoard money and make them richer.

The New York Times hit this with an editorial today. But Blanche Lincoln is simply an example of a Democrat beholden to a certain sector on key issues, in this case ultra-rich department store owners. There are niche sectors for plenty of other Democrats: the credit card industry in South Dakota and Delaware, the financial sector in New York, the auto sector in Michigan, farm states like Minnesota and North Dakota and Iowa. These regional anomalies have frustrated progressive change for some time, making this a sclerotic country that seems stuck in molasses and unable to move forward on important issues. There's a path to neutralize these forces, but let's get real - we're going to be dealing with this in some form forever.

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