Rich Man's Burden

Many entrepreneurs see billionaires like Warren E. Buffett and George Soros as a source of inspiration. But the nation's leading small-business lobby is less than inspired by the moguls' recent position on the estate tax.

Dozens of wealthy Americans--including Buffett, Soros, William H. Gates Sr., and David Rockefeller--are urging Congress to reject President George W. Bush's plans to eliminate the estate tax. They argue that axing the tax will cost the government needed revenue and harm philanthropic causes.

But a spokesman for the 600,000-member National Federation of Independent Business, which favors a repeal to help family businesses, suggests that such arguments are based less on public policy than on personal penitence. "They're feeling guilty," says Dan Blankenburg, the NFIB's manager of legislative affairs. "Perhaps they should give all their wealth to the federal government or to people on the streets."

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