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Froma Harrop
Froma Harrop
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Republicans Overboard on Yachtsman Kerry


I voted for the guy to be president in 2004, but I never much cared for Sen. John Kerry. So to my conservative friends now mocking the Massachusetts liberal for having saved $500,000 in taxes by docking his $7 million yacht in Rhode Island, I say, "Have fun."

But only to a point.

When Republicans use Kerry as a lesson on the wisdom of their tax philosophy, they totally miss the boat. On the contrary, he's a great example of why they are wrong.

Start with the spiel that states with the lowest taxes always win. Rhode Island repealed its Boat Sales and Use Tax in 1993. Without a doubt, that helps a local pleasure-boat industry, which employs builders, maintenance workers and marina operators.

But Newport, where the Kerrys kept their 76-foot sloop Isabel, has hosted world-class sailing for well over a century. There are reasons for its appeal as a yachting mecca other than lenient tax policy on luxury vessels — and do note that Massachusetts still has lots of marinas full of big boats.

Does running a tax haven for yachtsmen make Rhode Island smart or a sucker? If Kerry can pocket half a million by moving his hulk there from Massachusetts, why isn't the Ocean State getting a piece of that? Rhode Island could have taxed the Kerry yacht at half the rate of Massachusetts and collected $250,000.

Let us now repair to the pilothouse wet bar and discuss how people like Kerry fit into the Republican argument for cutting rich people's income taxes. My conservative friends insist that taxing the wealthy makes them less able to employ the rest of us. Thus, the plan to let the Bush tax cuts expire for the highest brackets is a "job killer." It would especially hurt small businesses, the source of most employment.

Republicans overboard! It happens that only 3 percent of small-business owners make enough money to be taxed at the highest levels, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.

In other words, 97 percent of small businesses would be untouched by a restoration of the two top pre-2001 income tax rates. Furthermore, the richest 3 percent of "small businesses" tend to be an elite group — corporate law practices, real estate partnerships, accounting firms.

Last year, the Kerrys made between $100,000 and $1 million leasing their Gulfstream V private jet, according to their financial disclosure. That's a small business.

Republican leaders like to say that raising the plutocrats' taxes amounts to "punishing success." Is that true? Some people do make fortunes building great American enterprises. But they prosper under all tax regimes. Others hit the mother lode by closing U.S. factories or suing others. Then there are the heirs.

John Kerry was affluent in his own right, but his fabulous wealth comes from his success in getting Teresa Heinz to marry him. Teresa Heinz obtained her fortune from her first husband, the late H. John Heinz III. He got the money from his father, H. John Heinz II, who inherited from his father (whose name was Howard), who inherited from his father, the original Henry J. Heinz.

The founder of what became H.J. Heinz Co. began to make horseradish sauce and then pickles in 1869. Ketchup came along in 1876. When Henry J. Heinz died in 1919, his company had thousands of employees and a reputation for treating them well.

How does his success turn Teresa and John Kerry three generations later into American entrepreneurs needing low taxes to continue their good work? Perhaps my Republican friends can explain that to me.

Laugh all you want at John Kerry. At least he's willing to raise income tax rates on people like him.

To find out more about Froma Harrop, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at




5 Comments | Post Comment
Don't give me that overblown BS, you Liberal Donkey, because Republicans have had to endure for decades the stigma as the "Rich" party. You Libtards get even a whiff of the same treatment, you go crying to Momma at the drop of a hat. You morons, lead by your whiner-in-chief, are the most thin skinned nutjobs I've ever seen. When the elitists in the Liberal party (which happens to be most of them) get criticized for the same crap you lot have been blaming Republicans and Conservatives for years, you wail like its just so unfair, why can't America understand your pain and plight, you are just like everyone else!!! I mean, everyone else has the problems of owning multi-million $ yachts and if we would just understand that you don't want to pay taxes on it, that would be peachy... I mean, those extra tax dollars would look SOOOO good buying a gold played Ferrari studded in diamonds, right? I mean, jeez, those are the essentials of life!

"Laugh all you want at John Kerry. At least he's willing to raise income tax rates on people like him." Yep, but just like the rest of the Left Elitists (tax cheats, corruptocrats, America-haters), he'll weasel out of paying taxes as best he can, so your argument, as always with Libtards, is completely destroyed by facts.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Charles
Tue Aug 10, 2010 7:05 AM
Re: Charles' comment above: Say what you will about the Tea Party types, they surely do know how to construct a logical argument and present it in a clear and diplomatic fashion.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Geoffrey James
Tue Aug 10, 2010 11:17 AM
Let's lay off the name-calling and look at facts:

First, every time we have had a tax cut for the rich we have had a recession. It happened under Nixon, it happened under Reagan, it happened under Bush I and it happened under Bush II. Leaving the rich more money to stash away in their secret offshore accounts does nothing for our economy, and rewarding them for shipping jobs overseas hurts us all.

Second, it wasn't until Reagan signed the biggest tax increase in history that we had the prosperity Republicans are still bragging about.

Clinton raised taxes on the richest one per cent, and look at the prosperity that followed. It wasn't until George W.' s tax cuts fhat it came crashing down.

The most prosperous time in the last century was the Eisenhower years, when the top marginal tax rate was 90%.

So while the "Tea Party types" can "construct a logical argument and present it in a clear and diplomatic fashion (even though I have never heard anything diplomatic out of any of them)," they are still ivory tower theories that are at odds with what goes on out here in the real world.
Comment: #3
Posted by: Tom Blanton
Tue Aug 10, 2010 1:18 PM
Ms. Harrop:

Unemployment is at 9.5 percent. It will probably go over 10 percent. What is the anwer to creating the jobs this country needs? All the President has done is kill jobs.
Comment: #4
Posted by: JM
Wed Aug 11, 2010 6:43 AM
re: Geoffrey James - And Liberals can only argue with sarcasm, the recourse of a weak mind...

Tom Blanton - "Clinton raised taxes on the richest one per cent, and look at the prosperity that followed. It wasn't until George W.' s tax cuts fhat it came crashing down." Let us not forget that during Bill Clinton's first 2 years, there was a Democrat held Congress, and during that Democrat held Congress unemployment rose and a mini-recession began... when a Republican held Congress took hold after his first 2 years, unemployment fell and we pulled out of that mini-recession... This can be attributed to the fact that Republicans forced Clinton to abide by a more moderate policy... Then again, when Bush was forced to abide by a Democrat controlled Congress, unemployment sky rocketed, and has continued to do so. The only bright spot right now is that Dumbocrats in Congress and the White Horse don't seem to be facing reality and keep saying they are going to somehow magically win EVERY seat in the Nov. elections. That's fine with me if they want to keep deluding themselves...
Comment: #5
Posted by: Charles
Wed Aug 11, 2010 6:35 PM
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