Even though the unemployment rate rose from 8.1% to 8.4% over the past month last night the Senate passed a $250 billion amendment to slash the estate tax for multimillionaire estates. Ten Democrats joined with Republicans to add the amendment to the Obama budget. It is no shock that these 10 Dems are now trying to pretend like the vote didn’t happen.
The amendment sponsored by John Kyl (R-AZ) and Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) raised the minimum amount of taxable inheritance from $7 million for couples and $3.5 million for individuals to $10 million. It also slashed the tax from 45%-35%. Not surprisingly, 9 of the 10 Democrats of shame hailed from conservative states. The 10 were Baucus (D-MT), Bayh (D-IN), Cantwell (D-WA), Landrieu (D-LA), Lincoln (D-AR), Murray (D-WA), Nelson (D-FL), Nelson (D-NE), Pryor (D-AR), Tester (D-MT). A recent New York Times editorial pointed out that under the current law 99.8% of people didn’t pay the estate tax.
I thought that maybe these ten Democrats could be explained by election politics, but only Lincoln, Murray, and Bayh are up for reelection next year and all three are considered to be extremely safe. Of the remaining 7, only Sen. Nelson of Florida, and Sen. Cantwell of Washington are from states that Barack Obama carried in 2008. Not surprisingly, Bayh put out a statement that defended his vote against the Obama budget which he called to expensive, but he didn’t mention his support of an amendment that will cost the Treasury $250 billion.
In Sen. Patty Murray’s statement, the only inheritance she referred to were the inherited challenges facing Democrats. She also talked about giving the middle class a break, “We’ve tried it the other way. It’s time to invest in America again. It’s time to give the middle class a break. It’s time for honesty. And it’s time to make bold decisions. This budget – while not perfect – invests in our future and begins to get us back on track. “
None of these Democrats made mention of their pro-multimillionaire vote on their
websites or in their statements about the budget, it is almost like they don’t want the voters in their districts to know about their vote. There was no possible good logic that these Democrats can deploy to defend this vote in this economy. It isn’t as if the estate tax is the biggest problem in the tax code, or this was a plague infecting middle class. I am sure that the multi-millionaires would have somehow muddled through in this economy. This was a disgraceful and reality detached vote that deserves to be called out.
(h/t: Think Progress)