Liberal Group Challenges Democrats On Estate Tax Vote

WASHINGTON – In a full-page ad today in the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call, the Campaign for America’s Future challenged a handful of Democratic senators to stand up for the common good by uniting with fellow Democrats to protect the estate tax from a bill before the Senate.

The ad targets Sens. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., Patty Murray, D-Wash., Mark Pryor, D-Ark., and other Democrats said to be wavering on their vote on the estate tax.

The ad asks how many “Blanched” Democrats there are, referring to an editorial about Sen. Blanche Lincoln’s opposition to the estate tax written by Jonathan Chait of The New Republic.

“Critics never talk about the handful of wealthy families who have bankrolled the anti-estate tax campaign,” writes Chait. “One such family is the Waltons, who own Wal-Mart. They live in Lincoln’s home state of Arkansas … Lincoln doesn’t want rich heirs to pay any inheritance tax on their windfall … Who does she want to pay more in taxes?”

Campaign for America’s Future co-director Robert Borosage said his group will keep an eye on Democratic senators who choose to stand up for special interests instead of the common good on this issue.

“This is nothing more than another tax break for multimillionaires,” said Borosage. “There’s a growing frustration with the right-wing policies that provide massive tax breaks to the rich while cutting programs that average families depend on. We need to invest in areas vital to our future.”

President Bush and other Republicans want to eliminate the federal estate tax on inherited wealth for the super-rich entirely. After a vote in the Senate earlier this month showed there wasn’t enough support to abolish it, Republicans put together a “compromise” that guts the great bulk of the tax.

The House passed that bill last Thursday. It would add a projected $283 billion plus borrowing costs to the national debt over the next 10 years. The bill is now before the Senate. Under the bill, estates worth as much as $5 million for individuals and $10 million for couples would be shielded from the tax.

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**NOTE: An electronic copy of the ad that appeared in Roll Call is available at http://home.ourfuture.org/print-ads/CAF-Roll-Call.pdf. **