Tuesday, June 29, 2010

GOP Chooses Tax Cuts for Billionaires Over Jobless Benefits for the Unemployed

By Jon Perr
Crooks and Liars

Refusing to extend unemployment benefits to 1.2 million Americans by adding to the deficit, Senate Republicans by a 41 to 57 margin on Thursday again filibustered the Democratic $112 billion jobs bill. As it turns out, most of the roughly $35 billion still needed to pay for it could largely come from a single source: the estate tax. But thanks to the same GOP obstructionism, Republicans have chosen a one-year windfall for a handful of billionaires over millions of Americans in the throes of financial crisis....

Of course, as they made crystal clear with the perpetual effort to kill the estate tax, Republicans' commitment to the rich trumps everything else.

In 2009, only 1 in 500 American estates paid taxes. In 2008, the tax produced $25 billion for the U.S. Treasury even in a year when the stock market was battered. But barring new legislation in Congress, in 2011 the estate tax rate will jump back up to its pre-2001 level of 55%, starting at $2 million per couple. In December, the House voted 225-200 to maintain 2009's rate of 45% beginning at $3.5 million per person or $7 million per couple. But as 2009 ended, Jon Kyl led the successful GOP effort to block the bill, ensuring the temporary one-year expiration of the estate tax on January 1st, 2010:

"It's a problem that doesn't have to exist if they'll just leave the existing law alone and let the rate go to zero, which is where everyone wants it to be."

Well, not everyone. Just, as the numbers show, the very, very rich.

Under the 2009 rate, 99.8% of estates owe no estate tax at all.
And as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) showed, over 62% of estate tax revenue comes from the "extreme wealthy" with fortunes greater than $20 million. "Only three percent of taxes owed" are paid by estates under $5 million. But as the Washington Post explained in April 2009, those are precisely the pockets Jon Kyl aided and abetted by Democrat Blanche Lincoln wants to line.... Read entire piece here.

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