Robert Knight

As election day approaches and many incumbents contemplate the death of their political careers, it’s a good time to remind them of their unfinished work in fending off a massive tax increase, and in particular, the death tax. In fact, they should be hounded about this at every campaign stop.

The death tax was reduced to zero in 2010, but will lurch from its grave on Jan. 1, 2011 and haunt small businesses worth $1 million or more. The 55 percent rate, if not repealed, will destroy many family-owned enterprises.

While tax-hungry liberals lick their chops at this Soviet-style confiscatory scheme, ordinary Americans should ask politicians why they want to hobble the only sure job-creating sector in a time of nearly 10 percent unemployment. Actually, it’s worse. When you add the people who gave up looking and those working only part time, we’re talking 17 percent.

But even that could balloon if this ghastly grave-robbing is not stopped. It’s not as if Congress doesn’t know what it’s doing. The evidence has been there for years, as companies have folded, been sold off or broken up by the death tax.

In Sheffield, Iowa, Sukup Manufacturing Company employs nearly half the workers of the 1,000-resident town. Eugene Sukup, who started the farm equipment company, is 81, and has health problems. The death tax hangs over his family and town like the Grim Reaper’s giant scythe, and he’s trying to put a blade cover on it.

Mr. Sukup was featured recently on "Cross-Examine," a new television program from Coral Ridge Ministries. Show host Del Tackett explained the two socialist notions that drive the death tax: “The state can pretty much take whatever it wants as long as it’s somebody else’s,” and “the rich are the bad guys—that somehow if they have it, it’s because they’ve taken from us.”

Sukup Manufacturing donates 10 percent of its taxable income back to the community through its own foundation. Three years ago, on Nov. 14, 2007, Mr. Sukup and several other small businessmen told the Senate Finance Committee that the death tax could destroy their companies and devastate their communities:

“I built this company, my sons helped me build it and my grandchildren want to carry it on,” Mr. Sukup testified. “Isn’t that the kind of entrepreneurship that our government should encourage?”

In How the Death Tax Kills Small Businesses, Communities—and Civil Society, a Heritage Foundation paper, Dr. Pat Fagan writes that the tax kills more than entrepreneurial dreams:

Robert Knight

Robert Knight is an author, senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a frequent contributor to Townhall.