Pretty Good Partisan Differentiator

So the House went ahead and voted to totally repeal the federal estate tax yesterday. But something was missing from similar votes back in the day: widespread Democratic defections. Used to be a standard push-off-the-left Blue Doggy thing to oppose the “death tax,” particularly for Members with big agricultural producers in their districts. But this time around only seven House Dems voted for this abomination, while three Republicans defected from their own party.

If nothing else, this means Democrats will have no problem making this an issue of “partisan differentiation.” If you think it will become impossible for people to “succeed” in this country if they cannot pass along unlimited wealth without taxation to their heirs, you are very likely a Republican, albeit of a kind who would make Teddy Roosevelt roll over in his grave. If you think a five-million-dollar-plus exemption–plus complete non-taxation of estates where there is a surviving spouse– is probably enough to accommodate family farms and small businesses, you are probably a Democrat. It’s most definitely a difference in perception.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.