Is the Senate Going to Allow the Estate Tax to Die?

R.I.P, Estate Tax...For Now

According to a Wall Street Journal article published this morning, efforts to pass some sort of estate tax extension in the upper chamber broke down late Wednesday afternoon. It seems the Democratic caucus can't agree on whether to permanently or temporarily extend 2009 estate tax levels. Though legislators are already promising to address the issue as soon as they return from the holidays, there is still time left to pass something. OMB Watch and a host of other organizations have submitted a letter to the Senate urging them to take action. Ironically enough for those who would champion the tax's death on Jan. 1, the consequences of inaction for small businesses and farms are costlier than extension.

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Pomeroy Estate Tax Bill Passes House

The Estate Tax Love Boat

As expected, the House brought up the Pomeroy estate tax bill this afternoon, and the legislation passed by a narrow score of 225 to 200. The bill passed mainly along partisan lines, but 26 Democrats joined the Republican caucus in opposition to the measure. Nine House members did not vote. With passage by the House, the bill now has to make it through the gauntlet that is the Senate.

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House Set to Vote on Pomeroy Estate Tax Bill

The Biltmore Estate

The House plans to take up estate tax reform as early as tomorrow with a vote on Rep. Earl Pomeroy's (D-ND) Permanent Estate Tax Relief for Families, Farmers, and Small Businesses Act of 2009 (H.R. 4154). The Pomeroy bill would permanently extend current estate tax law at a $7 million exemption for couples at a 45 percent rate. Without congressional action this year, the estate tax will expire in 2010 and then come back in 2011 under its pre-Bush tax cut levels of a $2 million exemption for couples at a 55 percent rate. OMB Watch has submitted a statement of support to Rep. Pomeroy's office, and several other non-profits have come out with reports to back up the legislation.

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House Passes Statutory PAYGO Bill

The House passed legislation (H.R. 2920) on July 22 that would reinstate statutory "pay-as-you-go" (PAYGO) budgeting rules, which were allowed to expire in 2002.

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CBPP Calls Foul on Recent Estate Tax *Studies*

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), a non-profit fiscal policy institute, released a report yesterday questioning the accuracy of two recent reports from the American Family Business Foundation (AFBF) that claim repeal of the federal estate tax could create upward of 1 million jobs relatively cost free.

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Rep. McDermott Introduces Level-Headed Estate Tax Bill

Rep. Jim McDermottWashington Representative Jim McDermott (D) introduced a great estate tax bill yesterday that is level-headed and common sense really. H.R. 2023, the Sensible Estate Tax Act, would create a permanent estate tax with a $4 million exemption for couples and a 45 percent tax rate on the amount of an estate that is above that $4 million exemption. Larger estates would pay a higher tax rate. All I can say is it is about time.

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Sen. Lincoln and the Multi-Millionaire Farmer

The estate tax just can't seem to stay out of the headlines lately. First, the New York Times ran another great editorial this morning browbeating the 10 Democratic and 41 Republican senators who voted to increase tax cuts for multi-millionaires last week. The Times held particular scorn for Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), who tried to justify offering the amendment to reward the super-rich saying it was really about small businesses and job creation. From the editorial:
The implication is that upon the death of an owner, estate taxes typically devastate small businesses and the jobs they provide. That is swill.

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Senators Stake Out Absurd Positions on Fiscal "Responsibility"

I just wanted to take a minute or two to heap scorn on the Senators who voted to cut taxes for millionaires, but especially on those who claim allegiance to "fiscal responsibility."

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Senate (sort of) Passes Estate Tax Cut

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.

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Long Overdue Outrage Over the Anti-Estate Tax Crowd

Both the New York Times and the Washington Post ran lead editorials this morning denouncing the attempt of Sens. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ) to give yet another tax cut to the children of the very richest Americans. Both editorials are spot on and raise excellent points about why Sens. Lincoln and Kyl seem to be both out of touch and out of their minds. In fact, both editorials express far more outrage and disdain for this proposed tax cut than I've ever seen before in any newspaper. (Read the Times and Post editorials.)

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