Updated on June 8.
Senators voted this afternoon to block a Republican effort to shrink taxes on inherited estates during this election year. GOP leaders had pushed senators to end the tax once and for all. It disappears in 2010, under President Bush's first tax cut, but rears up again a year later. A 57-41 vote fell three votes short of advancing the bill.
As William Greider and Katrina vanden Heuvel have both noted in recent Nation weblog posts, the Senate is close to pulling off another massive giveaway to the country's super-rich by eliminating the inheritance tax.
This change in the tax code would benefit less than half of one percent of American citizens but would harm many more by creating a one trillion dollar hole in future federal reserves. New handouts to the rich are especially galling coming right after Congress has cut Medicaid, child support, and college loans. But 18 super wealthy families, standing to benefit from the repeal to the tune of 72 billion dollars, have spent millions on the effort. The Senate is expected to soon vote on legislation to either repeal or drastically cut the estate tax. Reports suggest that a vote could come as early as Thursday, June 8.
This fight can be won. The bill's sponsors need 60 votes to bring the estate tax repeal/gutting to the floor, and, if they know you're paying attention, the votes will be hard to drum up. Please make every effort to let your elected reps know that you expect them to stand against repeal of the estate tax. Click here to email them and take the time to join United for a Fair Economy's campaign and call your Senators this week before it's too late. Call toll-free at 1-800-830-5738 to reach the US Capitol switchboard and ask to be connected to your Senators' offices. Call twice--once for each Senator.
BACKGROUND: The reality of the estate tax is frequently misrepresented by its critics. Here's a little cogent background on the tax, thanks to Stephen Wamhoff in the Sacramento Bee.
"The estate tax was enacted 90 years ago to curb the most extreme inequalities of wealth and to help fund public programs that all Americans, including the wealthy, enjoy. The tax applies to only the largest estates. Only those bigger than $2 million, or $4 million for married couples, pay any tax at all. In addition, family farms and businesses get special, favorable treatment. As a result, of the 2.5 million people expected to die this year, only one in 300 will leave a taxable estate."