Senate (sort of) Passes Estate Tax Cut
by Adam Hughes*, 4/3/2009
Well, the U.S. Senate is a mysterious thing. The Lincoln/Kyl estate tax amendment to reward the children of multi-millionaires passed last night - 51 - 48. But there's a caveat. The Senate also passed an amendment from Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) that prohibits any estate tax cuts called for in the Lincoln/Kyl amendment unless an equally large tax cut is passed for Americans making under $100,000 per year. That amendment also passed 56 - 43. Even Lincoln voted for Durbin's amendment (I guess she just really likes tax cuts?). I think on a procedural level this amendment does help a bit. While the Durbin amendment doesn't negate the Lincoln/Kyl amendment, it does make it a bit harder to develop legislation that would actually enact a change in the estate tax that is called for under the Lincoln/Kyl amendment.
But rhetorically it is a bit puzzling. Does this now mean that it's ok to cut the estate tax for the country's richest families during a time of dire economic need, just as long as the folks at the bottom of the economic ladder each get a much smaller piece of the pie? Apparently the U.S. Senate thinks it is.
But before we get to all that, it's encouraging to know there is a pretty good chance the language of the Lincoln/Kyl amendment will not even be included in the final conference report of the budget resolution that the House and Senate still need to negotiate. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) was pretty disgusted about the amendment last night and I'm guessing a majority of the folks over in the House will not be too thrilled about it either.
Probably the best news though is that all of the new Democratic senators, who were casting their first vote on the estate tax issue, voted the right way and opposed the Lincoln/Kyl amendment. Bravo and Brava to those senators!
Image by Flickr user photojonny used under a Creative Commons license.