Conservative senators have their priorities

CONSERVATIVE SENATORS HAVE THEIR PRIORITIES…. Following up on an item from yesterday, a couple of conservative senators, Jon Kyl (R) of Arizona and Blanche Lincoln (D) of Arkansas, decided that what really deserved attention during the budget debate is estate taxes for multi-millionaires.

As it turns out, they were successful. Despite alleged concerns about rising deficits and an imbalanced tax structure, the Senate approved the Lincoln-Kyl amendment, passing a tax break worth a quarter of a trillion dollars over the next decade for the richest of the rich. Every single Republican in the chamber voted for this — remember, they were desperate to cut both the stimulus and the budget because of debt concerns — and 10 Democrats joined them. The final vote was 51 to 48.

Tim Fernholz fleshes out some of the details, and reports that this estate tax break probably won’t make it to the final budget.

[T]here is some light at the end of the tunnel. For one, the provision isn’t likely to make into the finally congressional budget resolution, since both House negotiators and Senate Budget Committee Chair Kent Conrad will oppose the provision. […]

As Ezra observed yesterday, all the folks freaking out about how the Obama administration’s very reasonable plan to lower the tax deductions to Reagan-era levels would hurt charities haven’t said a peep about how removing the estate tax would hurt charities much more.

It’s nice to see our conservative and moderate senators taking time to focus on the people who have been really hit hard by the economic crisis — the heirs of estates ranging between $7 and $10 million.

You’d think, given the circumstances, that lawmakers would be going out of their way to prove how concerned they are about the middle class. And yet, there were 51 senators — 41 Republicans and 10 Democrats — taking a firm stand in support of lucrative tax breaks for America’s wealthiest families.

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