Resurrection 73

This is a chapter of the book I am writing for NaNoWriMo. If you want to read it from the start, click here for the chapter index.

The Byrd Rule

The Byrd Rule is a senate rule allowing senators to block bills that would significantly increase the US budget deficit for a period longer than 10 years. In practice this means any legislation the GAO projects will have a negative impact on the deficit for longer than 10 years is going to get blocked by the senate.

George Bush was elected President in 2000 based, at least in part, on his promise to ease the tax burden on middle-class Americans. In 2001 he signed the first of two bills aimed to deliver on that promise and colloquially known as the “Bush Tax Cuts.” Due to the Byrd rule, these tax cuts expired in early 2010.

In response to public demand, Barack Obama reinstituted the cuts, with minor changes, at the end of 2010 with his “Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act,” extending them for an additional two years, then made a compromise bill permanent in 2012 with the “American Taxpayer Relief Act.”

Buried in the 1,500 legalise of the Bush cuts were changes to the inheritance tax provisions. These changes expired at the beginning of 2010 and were modified and reinstated again starting January 1, 2011 under Obama.

That left 2010 a particularly unique year where the inheritance tax no longer existed.

Jon Langston was a practical man. While inwardly grieving and unsure of himself contemplating his father’s rapidly approaching death, he still was conscious of the financial consequences. He met with his estate planner, Jeff Albertson, who was graduate of Harvard Law as well as a CPA, to find out how the estate would move forward after Dick’s death.

“Well, while none of us want to see Mr. Langston pass, if any person of means could choose the year of their death, this would be it” the Albertson said.

It was October 15 and Langston was pretty sure his father could not live out the year. He wasn’t sure he could live out the month. But Dick Langston was not to be underestimated. Jon had seen others do that many times before. He had a tenacity allowing him to often beat the odds. Jon mentally noted he might have to call Mr. Black into duty come December, if it came to it.

During their meeting, Langston felt the vibration of the second phone in his pocket. He didn’t bother to check who was calling.

“I need to take this,” he said to Albertson. “Give me the room.”

It was a command, not a request and Albertson felt a bristle of anger shoot through him. He showed no visible emotion as he rose from his desk and exited his office.

“Mr. Black,” Langston answered, trying to sound calm and authoritative. He was anxious. Tab Carter scared him, possibly more than the predicament he currently found himself in with the preacher.

“You need to get Reeves out on bail. Arraignment is this afternoon, Roy White is his attorney.”

Langston started, “Now just a minute….” but Black had already disconnected.

Langston gave himself a second to catch his breath and get his emotions under control. He returned his burner to his pocket, noticing the slight tremble in his hand. He exited the office and through the lobby, not sharing a glance or a word as he passed Albertson.

He climbed in his black Mercedes and pulled out his “legal” phone, telling Siri to call Jack Thorton’s private number.

“Mr. Langston, what can I do for you today?” Thornton had a measured, pleasant tone.

“Tell me how I can get Reeves out on bail today without anyone knowing it’s me.”

“Certainly, Jon. I already looked at the docket. He should be arraigned this afternoon on the charge of murdering a deputy. The bail could be up to $2 million, maybe more.”

“Shit.” That was a lot of money. Langston felt his was already spending far too much on this debacle and this was many times what he was willing to part with. He also didn’t have $2 million laying around he could just access unnoticed.

“Of course,” added Thornton, “if Reeves never made it to trial, any money you put up for bail would be returned to you by the court.”

Langston was processing how he could access that kind of money. He had about $250,000.00 in his secret “rainy day” fund, syphoned off slowly over the years. He was pretty sure Dick didn’t even know about it.

“I’m not sure I can come up with $2 million on short notice without drawing unwanted attention. Attention neither of us wants,” replied Langston.

“Well, he will probably be given cash or bond. You can do a $2 million bond for $200,000.00, but even if there is no trial, the bondsman will keep it for his fee. You’ll never see it again, no matter what.”

Well, fuck, thought Langston.

“Let me make some calls and see what I can put together quietly. I’ll call you back. His attorney is Roy White. Is he someone we can work with?”

“I don’t know him, but I checked up on him already. He’s a small town criminal attorney. Pleads out almost all of his cases. He hasn’t been in front of a jury this year. One thing about criminal attorneys, they are all a little bit criminal themselves. I’m sure we can get him to work with us.”

“What about the Judge? Can we get to him?”

“Judge White is up for reelection and this case is making state headlines, maybe national. We’ll have limited influence unless we give him something big.”

“OK, well Jack, play through the angles. I’ll call you back soon once I figure out how to put together some money.”

“Jon, we’ve got this. It’s all just details,” replied Thornton.

“We better” replied Langston, disconnecting.

Jon started the Mercedes and began the drive back to Langston Farms. He drove without thought through the beautiful hills and painted fall trees. His mind was processing how to put together the money he needed. When he arrived, he didn’t respond to Mary’s greeting and retreated to his office, closing the door behind him.

 

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