In a vote late Friday evening, the Senate passed an amendment that called for the Senate “To repeal or reduce the estate tax, but only if done in a fiscally responsible way.” At this point, this is a largely symbolic vote, since “a fiscally responsible way” could be interpreted in interesting ways (so to speak). But it’s very disturbing. Supposedly liberal Senators like Patti Murray (D-
MicrosoftWA) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) voted for it.
Just so everyone is clear on how the current estate tax works, the first $5 million are tax free, then it scales up rapidly to a forty percent rate. We’re not leaving inheritors penniless by a long shot.
Given the deficit über alles approach of the current Congress (which is a separate problem), any estate tax cuts will have to be made up somewhere else. That’s probably why the New York senate delegation opposed this, even though there are a lot of wealthy estates in New York: they know if they don’t tax dead rich people, they will have to tax living rich people (who vote and donate). If you can’t tax dead rich people, whom can you tax?
Needless to say, this is yet another example of how our political system is completely focused on the needs of the wealthiest Americans.
I can’t even begin to describe how disappointed I am in Sen. Warren. I didn’t donate early on (back in exploratory committee days) so she would sympathize with reducing the estate tax. Not sure how I was supposed to see that one coming either. Just another Democratic betrayal, I suppose.
The good news is that this means that the only legitimate reason to preserve the filibuster–to protect the estate tax–really doesn’t seem relevant in this legislative environment. Now there’s no reason at all to protect it.