To resolve the budget crisis, legislators are looking for the least objectionable alternatives to raise taxes. The alternatives always gravitate to: 1) Those borne by a small segment of the population. The idea is to limit voter objection, especially by targeting a segment that generally does not support the political party in charge. 2) Tax the "rich". There seems to be an implicit assumption that anyone with money got it by cheating someone else, not through education, hard work, and saving (depriving one's self from amenities that others take for granted). 3) "Sin taxes" and taxes on goods perceived to be enjoyed only by people of higher means. These get support from voters who do not partake in the "sins". The rationale is that the segment being taxed deserves it. There are other alternatives but spreading the pain to everyone equally is the least favored because all voters will complain.
The "death" tax is an easy target because people think that only a few very rich people will pay (and who likes rich people?). Many rich people worked hard their entire lives; putting themselves through college, working 12-hour days and weekends, and working in high-stress jobs. Many saved money by depriving themselves of vacations, cable TV, fancy cell phones, etc. Many do not consider themselves "rich" because they worked for their money. Most have enough intelligence or experience to have amassed their wealth, and will take action to preserve it when faced with higher taxes.
I have saved money the hard way and will not give it up without a fight. My parents, who I am taking care of in their old age, did too. If Michigan enacts a death tax, I will vote with my feet; i.e., I will leave the state and take my parents with me. Michigan will no longer enjoy the benefits of all our spending. Those who will lose include store owners, assisted living personnel, medical workers, etc. Oh... and the State of Michigan will lose our tax revenues. If the so-called "rich" leave the state, who will be left to support those who remain? This is the beginning of a downward spiral.