Don’t Repeal the Estate Tax

Back in 2001, Congress voted to slowly eliminate the estate tax over a number of years, but did not have the votes to permanently eliminate it.  With funding by some of American’s wealthiest families (think Walmart, Gallo, Mars candy bars), representatives of the nation’s plutocrats think they might have the votes this year to repeal the tax rather than waiting until later when the public mood might change.  It’s crucial that we let our elected officials know that we don’t support these efforts and urge them to save the estate tax instead.

Within the complicated, regressive American tax system, the estate tax is a simple and fair tax that only affects the richest 2% of all Americans, individuals with estates larger than $1.5 million and couples with estates larger than $3 million.  The Bush administration has already drastically cut taxes for wealthy Americans.  Pushing for the permanent elimination of a tax that affects a few thousand of the wealthiest Americans while in a time of war and increasing deficits is unfair, immoral and simply un-American.

The estate tax was established to ensure that those who had the greatest ability and obligation to pay taxes would do so.  More than half of the value of large estates is made up of capital gains, which would go untaxed if the estate tax were repealed.  In addition, because the estate tax encourages charitable giving by making donations exempt, repeal of the estate tax could cut charitable giving by more than $10 billion per year.  It’s estimated that eliminating the estate tax would reduce federal revenue by more than $980 billion over the next 20 years.  At a time when social security and Medicaid are projected to be in a serious financial crisis and America is unable to balance its budget, it’s ridiculous to be talking about cutting taxes for millionaires.

Especially during a time of war, taxing the wealthiest Americans who are most able to pay is the most fair and moral thing to do.

Urge your senators to vote to maintain the estate tax.

Support the Salmon Planning Act today!

This month, a group of volunteers is heading to Washington DC to meet with members of Congress to discuss salmon recovery policy.  Please help us deliver a strong grassroots push at the same time.  Bush Administration policies continue to push Pacific Northwest wild salmon – and the communities that rely on them – towards extinction.  Please help encourage Congress to stop wasting our taxpayer dollars on failed recovery efforts.  Please urge your Representative to sign onto the Salmon Planning Act today!

Stop the Flow of Security Assistance to Nepal

Nepal’s human rights crisis has deepened since King Gyanendra declared a state of emergency and suspended fundamental rights on February 1.  Hundreds of politicians, student leaders, journalists, and human rights defenders have been arrested.  This is occurring against a backdrop of thousands of grave human rights violations.  Please join Amnesty International in urging Secretary of State Rice to immediately suspend all U.S. security assistance to Nepal.

Tell your Senator to Oppose the Federal Marriage Amendment

This week the Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution, will be holding a hearing on the issue of same-sex marriage.  The hearing is focused on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and, for all practical purposes, on the Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA) as well.  Contact your Senators today and let them know that discrimination has no place in the Constitution.

Help Defeat Bill Granting Unlimited Powers to Homeland Security Secretary

There is a common thread running through recent abuses of power by Congress’s Radical Right leadership:  contempt for independent courts and judges.

It is this extreme arrogance that has led to the REAL ID Act, a bill whose sponsors are so intent on attacking immigrants that they are actually willing to grant the Secretary of Homeland Security unlimited powers that could not be challenged in any court.

Knowing that this proposal is unpopular and goes against our democracy’s principle of checks and balances, House sponsors attached the REAL ID Act to the Iraq war supplemental appropriations bill.  Because senators are unlikely to vote against the final version of that bill, whatever it contains, we must pressure senators now to strip the REAL ID Act during a House-Senate conference committee, which could start meeting as early as April 12.

Contact both of your U.S. Senators today and tell them to make sure that the REAL ID Act is not included in the final Iraq war supplemental appropriations bill.

Protect Nature Around the Globe

U.S. activists, help prevent a steep drop in funding for a key global environmental program that has supported hundreds of projects worldwide, including the conservation of barrier reefs in Belize, tropical rain forests in the Philippines, and important bird habitat in Africa.  You’ll also be pushing for more funding for the biodiversity activities of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Senate Debates U.S. Military Spending in Iraq

Right now, the Senate is considering amendments to the Bush administration’s $82 billion spending request for tsunami relief and U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Regardless of whether you believe U.S. forces should leave today, next year, or the moment Iraq is able to provide for its own security, one problem remains clear:  the Bush administration is not doing enough to create a responsible way out of Iraq.

While reports of progress in equipping and training Iraq’s new security forces are encouraging, U.S. assistance has fallen short in helping Iraq build the civilian institutions that underpin democracy.

Two years after the fall of Saddam Hussein, Iraq’s national ministries, directorates, and governing institutions lack the capacity to effectively direct resources or make decisions based on the needs of the Iraqi people.

Join the Education for Peace in Iraq Center (EPIC) in asking the Senate to amend the emergency appropriations bill.  Urge them to require that the Bush administration provide a detailed plan for supporting Iraq’s transition to a fully independent and stable democracy, including a clear timetable for the reduction and full withdrawal of U.S. forces.

Click the link below to send a letter today:

Tell the Park Service Not to Allow Damaging Jetski Use at Gulf Islands National Seashore!

Gulf Islands National Seashore spans the coastal islands of Mississippi and Florida.  While more than 80 percent of the park is underwater, white sand beaches, clear blue water, coastal marshes and dense forests can all be found within the boundaries of Gulf Islands.  The park provides habitat for an abundance of life, including bottlenose dolphins, manatees, four species of sea turtles, and 280 species of birds.

Thanks to a Bluewater Network lawsuit, jetski operation at Gulf Islands has been prohibited since April of 2002.  Unfortunately, the National Park Service has released an environmental assessment of jetski use in the park, and the preferred alternative would permit operation of the thrillcraft on most park waters.  The Park Service is opting to allow personal watercraft despite the fact that their own research shows that the best way to protect park resources and wildlife is to ban the machines.

Please send an email to Jerry Eubanks, Superintendent at Gulf Islands National Seashore, and tell him that you support protecting the irreplaceable resources and wildlife of Gulf Islands from jetski and two-stroke engine damage.

The comment period ends May 16, 2005.

Stop Bank Lawsuits Against Privacy Rights Laws

Consumers won a big victory in late June when a U.S. District Court rejected a banking industry lawsuit challenging California’s new groundbreaking financial privacy law. But the banks have filed an appeal — they’re determined to block key provisions of the law and to prevent other states from enacting similar protections. Federal law gives consumers very few rights to control how our financial information is shared or sold to others.

The new law requires banks to get permission before sharing customers’ sensitive financial information with most outside companies, and gives consumers a say in how information is shared with affiliates. Though banks like to promote privacy protection in their ads, this lawsuit shows their true colors.

It’s time for the banks to get out of the courts and start providing these financial privacy protections to consumers in all fifty states. Act Now! Tell the banks to stop fighting privacy rights for consumers.


Help West African Farmers and Their Families Work

The policy of the United States to continue dumping cotton on the world market is having devastating effects on cotton farmers in West Africa.  More than 10 million people in this region rely on cotton to survive.  The WTO has ruled against the US government’s system of subsidizing the dumping of US cotton on world market.

E-mail George Bush and demand he implements the recent legally binding WTO ruling, which will help West African farmers and their families work their way out of poverty.

These and over 425 other action alerts are archived at

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