SEATTLE TIMES PUBLISHER Frank Blethen and his continuing battle against the estate tax are in the news again—although he probably isn't passing around copies of a recent New York Times story in which he was prominently featured.
That's because reporters at the New York paper made mincemeat out of a primary claim used by the tax's opponents: that it prevents family farms from being passed from generation to generation. Reporter David Cay Johnston couldn't find a single documented case of a family losing its farmland because of estate taxes. The American Farm Bureau Federation, an ally of Blethen's in the estate tax fight, couldn't find one either.
At least the scare tactics of Blethen and Co. seem to be working: A recent Gallup survey showed that some 17 percent of Americans think they'll have to pay the estate tax, as opposed to the 2 percent who actually will.