Two tax votes reveal Republican priorities

The House of Representatives approved the Tax Extenders Act of 2009 on Wednesday by a vote of 241 to 181. As you can see from the roll call, all but ten Democrats voted for the bill. All but two Republicans (Walter Jones, NC-03 and Joseph Cao, LA-02) voted against it. After the jump I've posted more details about the business tax credits that would be extended if this bill becomes law.

On December 3, the House passed the Permanent Estate Tax Relief for Families Farmers and Small Businesses Act, which caps the estate tax at 45 percent and exempts estates worth up to $3.5 million (preserving this tax at 2009 levels). This bill passed with the support of 225 Democrats and zero Republicans (roll call here). If Congress had not acted, the estate tax would have been repealed in 2010 and then would have reverted to its 2001 level in 2011 (a 55 percent tax on estates valued above $1 million).

Republicans claim the so-called "death tax" is a burden to small business owners and farmers. In my own Congressional district, GOP candidate Jim Gibbons already used this canard in a press release targeting Representative Leonard Boswell, who voted for the estate tax bill. Right-wingers can't find any real-world families who had to sell the farm because of the estate tax. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has concluded (emphasis added),

If the 2009 estate tax rules are extended, only 100 small business and farm estates in the entire nation will owe any estate tax at all in 2011, according to the new estimates by the Tax Policy Center, and virtually none of those businesses and farms would have to be sold to pay the tax. [...]

Under 2009 law, the estates of more than 997 of every 1,000 people who die will owe no estate tax whatsoever. [...] In its latest analysis, the Tax Policy Center projects that only 0.25 percent of the estates of people who die in 2011 -- i.e., the estates of 1 of every 400 people who die -- will be subject to the estate tax if the 2009 estate tax rules are continued.

To sum up: Republicans are for saving farmers and small business owners from the so-called "death tax" that doesn't apply to them. But when they had a chance yesterday to extend tax credits affecting farms and small businesses, House Republicans said no.

Why am I not surprised?

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You Can't Take It With You, Vermont Edition

Vermont politics has been pretty interesting lately.  In April, our Legislature became the first in the nation to vote in favor of marriage equality for gay couples. The vote was overwhelmingly in favor, but our Republican governor, Jim Douglas, vetoed it nonetheless.  This posed no problem in the State Senate, where Democrats hold a huge majority.  But in the last election cycle, Democrats (along with a handful of Progressives) also gained enough seats to comprise just exactly a veto-proof majority in the House. Still, a handful of conservative Democrats would not support marriage equality (including the two who happen to represent my district.)  Fortunately they were balanced by a handful of Republicans who voted for equality (including, most surprisingly, a conservative Republican in my parents' district: you could have knocked me over with a feather when I heard that, I had assumed that guy was a total dittohead!), giving just enough votes to override our obstinate governor - who then obnoxiously sniffed that "this is not a time for congratulations". OK Jim, if you don't happen to care that a minority has just gained a right they had always been denied, or if you haven't spent years in the grassroots working to build support for this civil right, or if you don't know or can't even imagine anyone who has, then I suppose it's not a time for you to offer congratulations, it's just a time to pout.  Goodness knows that's something our Governor excels at!  

Then just about a week ago, for the first time in Vermont history, the Governor vetoed the budget passed by the Legislature.  The Democrats held together, and along with the Progressives, overrode the Governor for a second time.  Don't tread on us, Jim!

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Weekly Audit: Why the Current Stimulus Plan Isn't Enough

by Zach Carter, TMC MediaWire Blogger 

The U.S. economy just keeps getting worse. Given the absolute pummeling the job market has taken over the past five months, we're going to need some much stronger medicine than policymakers are currently proposing. It's increasingly clear that President Obama's stimulus plan was devised for a far milder downturn, and this week we received further evidence of the recession's high human cost.  

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Yes, We Have Pro-Bad Business Nuts Too!!!

In the african community we are starting to get involved in the investment game, as well as planning for retirement better. The game was often times stack against us. However, I have notice lately, which has now been written about in the, that alot of blacks becoming involved in the investment fund industry are siding with the Republican/Blue Dog Democrat way of thinking about business and picking up the worst habits, namely, make as much money as you can, and simply move it from account to account. No trickle down there.

And Bob Johnson, founder of BET, is exhibiting this "business" ailment.

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Minimum wage/estate tax bill lives!!!

According to the Hillyesterday, in the next few weeks, we'll see once more rearing its ugly head the monstrous bill that combined a minimum wage rise with the gutting of the estate tax plus a fair few other tax goodies.

(That's HR 5970, the Estate Tax and Extension of Tax Relief Act, to its friends (few and very rich).)

Where we left the bill was the failed cloture vote (56-42) followed by a motion to reconsider by Frist. (The recess the next day froze the situation there.)

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