Life insurers are pushing for the estate tax on Capitol Hill so that they can then make money by selling people life insurance policies as a way of getting around the estate tax, Timothy Carney reports at the Washington Examiner:
Mr. Carney doesn't mention it in this piece, but Warren Buffett, one of the most outspoken public advocates of the estate tax, is in the life insurance business via Gen Re and Geico, whose Web site helpfully notes that "Life insurance is also used to achieve specific business or estate planning goals."
It's stunning, even by K Street standards: The life insurance lobby spends millions to create the conditions (a high inheritance tax) from which it then promises to protect customers with its tax-free insurance products. Life insurance companies are lobbying against the interests of their own customers.
The industry hopes its 45 percent proposal (with a $3.5 million exemption), drafted by outgoing Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., can make it into the House bill after the Senate bill set a 35 percent rate and $5 million exemption. Pomeroy said he will vote against the tax bill without his estate tax provision.
Pomeroy is known as the life insurance industry's best friend in the House. Met Life was Pomeroy's top source of campaign funds this past election, and over his House career, New York Life claims that crown, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. He was -- by a 25 percent margin -- the top House recipient of insurance industry money in the 2010 election (this includes casualty insurance and health insurance).