the blog of DC Drinking Liberally

June 8, 2006

Estate Tax Repeal Rises Again


Following on the heels of yesterday’s “marriage protection” foolishness, Bill Frist in his wisdom has decided that the next priority for the Senate to address is the growing gap between rich and poor. The Republican strategy, as you might have guessed, is to make the gap larger. With luck, they won’t be any more successful with this than they were with yesterday’s legislation.

Since the Republicans like to call it the “death tax”, you might think the estate tax applies to everyone who dies. In fact it currently affects only 1 in 200 estates. Nevertheless, the Republicans don’t just want to lower it or tinker with it — they want to do away with it entirely, so that even billionaires can leave their entire estates to their heirs without paying a penny in taxes. It fits in with the general plan of eliminating taxes on all forms of income for the rich (like capital gains), leaving the working class to shoulder the entire burden of paying for government services through taxes on wages.

On the other hand, some of us think that a tax that affects only people who have done nothing to earn the money (other than having the luck of being born into the right family) is not a bad kind of tax to have, if you must have taxes — which we must if we want to have a government. Let’s hope the forces of sanity prevail, and this repeal is defeated again.

The photo above is from a Billionaires for Bush event I participated in back on April 25. It was part of a press conference by Public Citizen and United for a Fair Economy reporting that lobbying for the estate tax repeal was largely funded by 18 ultra-wealthy families who stand to gain billions if it passes. Note that the figures on the graph showing the percentage gain from “investing” in lobbying for the legislation are actually missing two zeros.

Update: The repeal attempt failed again, falling three votes short of the 60 needed for cloture. Most Democrats voted on the side of the average American, along with Republicans Lincoln Chafee (RI) and George Voinovich (OH). Democrats Max Baucus (MT), Blanche Lincoln (AR), Ben Nelson (NE), and Bill Nelson (FL) inexplicably voted for cloture. Unfortunately, the issue will likely return before the end of this Congress.


  1. Shameful, isn’t it? Here we are in the midst of a war, dealing with record deficits, any number of domestic issues, and the Republicans somehow have time to attempt to give their rich friends another tax cut.

    Let your Senators know how you feel about this bill–give them a call! You can find their contact information and more on my coalition’s homepage at

    Coalition4AmericasPriorities9:04 am

  2. Often absent from commentary on the estate tax is the point that not only will tax revenue
    decline, but so will contributions to charities, since, currently, giving your money away
    or designating it for charity in your will allows the donor to avoid taxes on the estate.
    By the way, lots of people would rather we did not have government, but almost everyone
    agrees that we should have civilization and that is what taxes ultimately pay for.

    The Absurdist9:29 am, June 9

  3. House Passes Minimum Wage Hike With Estate Tax Cut

    The estate tax repeal is back yet again. Actually this time it’s just a cut, not a repeal, but it remains a bad idea to help establish a hereditary plutocracy while adding even more to our already insanely large deficit.
    When I first heard abou…

    DCDL8:31 am, July 29

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DCDL is a blog by Washington, DC-area members of Drinking Liberally. Opinions expressed are the writers’, not those of Drinking Liberally, which provides no funding or other support for this blog.

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