Friday, June 09, 2006


Back from the dead?

No rest for the wicked. I should have read closer closer this morning. See this from the Times:

Republicans are now debating whether to give up on their goal and attack Democrats in the coming midterm elections as obstructionists on a measure that they say has considerable support, or settle for a bipartisan measure that would stop short of eliminating the tax entirely.

Just when I think I'm out, they pull me back in!

Now we know for certain why Republicans are the elephant party -- they never learn.

Hear anything moving on the Estate Tax front? Send me an email at the address in the upper lefthand corner. This we'll have to watch.



Well, I would have updated this yesterday, except that Blogger was bloggered and I couldn't log in. I'm sure I wasn't the only one with this problem.

Anyway, if you've seen the news at all since yesterday afternoon ... well, the Zarqawi mess has pretty much dominated everything, but if you looked around the edges, you might have seen headlines along the lines of:

Estate tax repeal fails in Senate
Measure sought permanent end to levy due back in '11

Some more details via, and I apologize in advance for the crummy formatting. What can I say, I'm a noob ;P

U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 109th Congress - 2nd Session

as compiled through Senate LIS by the Senate Bill Clerk under the direction of the Secretary of the Senate

Vote Summary

Question: On the Cloture Motion (Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Motion to Proceed to Consideration of H.R. 8 )
Vote Number: 164 Vote Date: June 8, 2006, 10:51 AM
Required For Majority: 3/5 Vote Result: Cloture Motion Rejected
Measure Number: H.R. 8 (Death Tax Repeal Permanency Act of 2005 )
Measure Title: A bill to make the repeal of the estate tax permanent.
Vote Counts: YEAs 57
NAYs 41
Not Voting 2
Vote Summary By Senator Name By Vote Position By Home State

Alphabetical by Senator Name
Akaka (D-HI), Nay
Alexander (R-TN), Yea
Allard (R-CO), Yea
Allen (R-VA), Yea
Baucus (D-MT), Yea
Bayh (D-IN), Nay
Bennett (R-UT), Yea
Biden (D-DE), Nay
Bingaman (D-NM), Nay
Bond (R-MO), Yea
Boxer (D-CA), Nay
Brownback (R-KS), Yea
Bunning (R-KY), Yea
Burns (R-MT), Yea
Burr (R-NC), Yea
Byrd (D-WV), Nay
Cantwell (D-WA), Nay
Carper (D-DE), Nay
Chafee (R-RI), Nay
Chambliss (R-GA), Yea
Clinton (D-NY), Nay
Coburn (R-OK), Yea
Cochran (R-MS), Yea
Coleman (R-MN), Yea
Collins (R-ME), Yea
Conrad (D-ND), Nay
Cornyn (R-TX), Yea
Craig (R-ID), Yea
Crapo (R-ID), Yea
Dayton (D-MN), Nay
DeMint (R-SC), Yea
DeWine (R-OH), Yea
Dodd (D-CT), Nay
Dole (R-NC), Yea
Domenici (R-NM), Yea
Dorgan (D-ND), Nay
Durbin (D-IL), Nay
Ensign (R-NV), Yea
Enzi (R-WY), Yea
Feingold (D-WI), Nay
Feinstein (D-CA), Nay
Frist (R-TN), Yea
Graham (R-SC), Yea
Grassley (R-IA), Yea
Gregg (R-NH), Yea
Hagel (R-NE), Yea
Harkin (D-IA), Nay
Hatch (R-UT), Yea
Hutchison (R-TX), Yea
Inhofe (R-OK), Yea
Inouye (D-HI), Nay
Isakson (R-GA), Yea
Jeffords (I-VT), Nay
Johnson (D-SD), Nay
Kennedy (D-MA), Nay
Kerry (D-MA), Nay
Kohl (D-WI), Nay
Kyl (R-AZ), Yea
Landrieu (D-LA), Nay
Lautenberg (D-NJ), Nay
Leahy (D-VT), Nay
Levin (D-MI), Nay
Lieberman (D-CT), Nay
Lincoln (D-AR), Yea
Lott (R-MS), Yea
Lugar (R-IN), Yea
Martinez (R-FL), Yea
McCain (R-AZ), Yea
McConnell (R-KY), Yea
Menendez (D-NJ), Nay
Mikulski (D-MD), Nay
Murkowski (R-AK), Yea
Murray (D-WA), Nay
Nelson (D-FL), Yea
Nelson (D-NE), Yea
Obama (D-IL), Nay
Pryor (D-AR), Nay
Reed (D-RI), Nay
Reid (D-NV), Nay
Roberts (R-KS), Yea
Rockefeller (D-WV), Not Voting
Salazar (D-CO), Nay
Santorum (R-PA), Yea
Sarbanes (D-MD), Nay
Schumer (D-NY), Not Voting
Sessions (R-AL), Yea
Shelby (R-AL), Yea
Smith (R-OR), Yea
Snowe (R-ME), Yea
Specter (R-PA), Yea
Stabenow (D-MI), Nay
Stevens (R-AK), Yea
Sununu (R-NH), Yea
Talent (R-MO), Yea
Thomas (R-WY), Yea
Thune (R-SD), Yea
Vitter (R-LA), Yea
Voinovich (R-OH), Nay
Warner (R-VA), Yea
Wyden (D-OR), Nay

Wednesday, June 07, 2006



I've heard from a very knowledgable source that the vote is scheduled at 12 noon today.

I must say, I am a bit more encouraged the more I read... Republicans are even less sure of passing this than I first thought. But that uncertainty goes both ways, of course.

I'm going to try to get away from work to catch this, but if I don't, consider this an open thread. Two hours to go. Let's hope this vote is as "symbolic" and as much as a failure as the anti-gay amendment was yesterday.

(I know, there's HUNDREDS of you just waiting to sound off in the comments here.)

UPDATE: Wrong! The DEBATE will begin at 12 noon today. The vote? Not so sure. So maybe not today, so maybe there's still time to call. These people can help you get through and these people have all the facts.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Apocalypse Postponed?

I can't tell from my vantage point. says today the first agenda item is to consider a judge for the federal bench (not holding my breath) and the next is, once again:

"Thereafter, resume consideration of the motion to proceed to S.J.Res.1, the Marriage Protection Amendment."

So what this probably means is Bill Frist and John Kyl won't be introducing their estate tax repeal today. I think. After work I'll be watching C-SPAN to see, just in case they sneak it in later.

Unlucky for Kyl, perhaps -- his op-ed ran in the USA Today today, predictably and irresponsibly slamming it as a "death tax." Grr.

Bad as that is, on the upside something I never thought I'd see happen happened: The conservative Salt Lake Tribune came out swinging against the repeal:

Despite reams of data that show that the estate tax only touches the top 1 percent of U.S. taxpayers, and despite the fact that the Mom and Pop businesses and family farms of the sort that earn our sympathy simply are not affected by this tax, the repeal has already passed the House and was near approval in the Senate last year before Hurricane Katrina disrupted everything.

If the government took the money and burned it, then one could argue that the tax on estates worth more than $2 million was just punitive class warfare. But because the money pays for things that benefit everyone, the government's 90-year history of taxing the transfer of large pots of money from one generation to the next is both reasonable and fair.

Wow! Reality based in SLC? I'll take it!

On the other hand, the netroots seem to have dropped the ball all of a sudden. Nothing on the front page of DailyKos, nothing at MyDD, and nothing on the front page of FireDogLake. Nothing!

Fiddling while Shrub burns the place down...

Monday, June 05, 2006


What a difference a week makes

When I launched this blog in late May, I was afraid no one would notice the Estate Tax until it was gone. Well, tomorrow looks like it may still be the day, unless today's pointless gay baiting bill takes longer to fail.

Now, the (warmongering, Bush-supporting) Washington Post deserves everything the netroots throws at it (see the brilliant Jamison Foser this weekend) but check out conservative columnist Sebastian Mallaby, who makes a conservative argument I think we can agree with about why to save this tax:

If the abolitionists succeed, some other tax will eventually be raised to make up for the lost revenue. So which tax does Congress favor? The income tax, which discourages work? A consumption tax, which hits the poor hardest? The payroll tax, which is both anti-work and anti-poor? Really, which other tax out there is better?

And not a reference of "death tax" in the whole thing! Plus, although hidden behind the NYT's pay wall (no link, sorry) The Shrill One goes to town with it:

Any senator who votes to repeal the estate tax, or votes for a "compromise" that goes most of the way toward repeal, is in effect saying that increasing the wealth of people who are already in line to inherit millions or tens of millions is more important than taking care of fellow citizens who need a helping hand.

Meanwhile, finally the big guns of the progressive blogosphere are getting hip to the subject:

Brad DeLong
Christy "Reddhedd" Smith
The NDN Blog
Main Street USA
Steve Benon
And Ezra Klein and Kevin Drum, who so far have been better on this issue than most.

P.S. And thanks for the mention, eriposte!

Sunday, June 04, 2006


Ask Bob Kuttner

how the Republicans are trying to put one over on us this week. Some key points:

The recent cuts in the estate tax expire in 2011. Republicans, who expect to lose seats in November, want to enact permanent repeal now, while they still have the votes.

This is *almost* good news. They're obviously expecting to lose in the fall, and they should be. But this probably also means a flurry of bad legislation -- e.g. the pointless, meanspirited and by all other means idiotic gay marriage vote.

More of the same:

Republicans also want to get this done fast before the newly appointed Treasury secretary, Henry M. Paulson, chief executive of Goldman-Sachs, faces potentially embarrassing confirmation hearings. Paulson is allegedly a deficit hawk. With a personal net worth of about $700 million, he's also a poster child for why the super-rich can well afford to have their estates taxed.

Everyone including Senator Schumer seems to think this guy's totally the awesomest. OK, he likes the outdoors and he's got a bit of Audubon Society in him. That's nice, but let's see what he can or will actually do in this Administration before we give him a Good Guy badge.

Kuttner offers one way to see this through:

Democrats could go to town on this issue. As Paulson makes his round of Senate courtesy calls, they should press him to oppose estate-tax repeal.

Are your fingers crossed?

Friday, June 02, 2006


Welcome, Kevin Drum readers!

He's right on the money -- literally and figuratively both.

If you've come here to stay up-to-date on the estate tax and the atrocious Kyl bill that would effectively neuter it, then you're in the right place.

If you do one thing to help the fight today, please visit this CNBC page where rightwing hack Larry Kudlow is asking WHAT DO YOU THINK about the estate tax?

If enough of us get over there and click NO to the question of abolishing the estate tax (it's a small miracle he doesn't call it the "d--th tax") we can set him up for a real surprise.

Come again soon! This blog's mission is to be a resource for information about defending the estate tax, and we'd better be ready to go to the mattresses here. Are you listing, Senate Democrats?

Thursday, June 01, 2006


Finally, some movement

Am I irrelevant already? I realize next to no one reads this, but already I see the issue is gaining some steam at Daily Kos. Here's ElaineN, writing in a diary:

According to my daily tax service (BNA Daily Tax Report, by subscription, sorry), Senator Baucus is floating a compromise that "threatens to complicate the already complex process by which the Senate will take up estate tax repeal next week and settle on a relief deal that can win 60 votes."

BNA reports that the Baucus proposal includes "a progressive tiered approach that would impose a higher estate tax rate on larger estates, with the top rate at 35 percent" and an exemption of $3.5 million per person.

This is competing with a Kyl proposal to raise the exemption to $5.0 million with a 15% rate, the same as the capital gains rate. Kyl thinks he's close to 60, but he doesn't have it yet, and the Baucus proposal will probably pull back some Dems that wanted cover.

I don't know quite what this means. Baucus is too conservative for me, but if his deal can manage to avert the total crisis of Kyl's bill, that's got to be a good start. I'm on pins and needles. I hope adigal is right:

It appears as though most Democrats are poised to block this, using the filibuster if they must. But a "moderate" Republican is trying to peel off 6 or so Democrats to provide a filibuster-proof number so it can pass. His "compromise" would only add 500 to 600 billion dollars to the debt from 2011 to 2021. This, while we have an aging population, and real wages are going down."

Time will tell. I see the Coalition 4 Americas Priorities also has a diary, with links to the same pages I wrote about earlier. Go! Click! Call! Citizens of the netroots, we're our only hope.

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