House Republicans Vote Against Tax Cuts

December 03, 2009 3:32 pm ET — Walid Zafar

In 2001, the Bush administration exacted a $1.35 trillion tax cut, a cut which disproportionally benefited the wealthiest 5% of taxpayers.  Along the same vein, the estate tax was cut, at a gradual rate, until it disappeared in 2010, only to come back in 2011 at the pre-Bush rate.  Congress is under pressure to act.  If no action is taken before New Years, notes Citizens for Tax Justice, "any estates transferred at death next year will be tax-free."

Rep. Earl Pomeroy's (D-ND) H.R. 4154, the Permanent Estate Tax Relief for Families, Farmers, and Small Businesses Act of 2009, which passed the House today, will fix the problem by making the estate tax permanent at 45% and raising the exemption to $3.5 million.  According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, H.R. 4154 is actually a $233.6 billion tax cut.  Republicans, who want to entirely abolish the estate tax, must choose between supporting a Democratic tax cut or having rates rise in 2011. 

Republicans, according to Congressional Quarterly's Richard Rubin, have adopted a firm "repeal-or-bust" strategy.  In fact, not a single Republican voted in favor of the legislation.  Upon passage, Rep. Dean Heller (R-NV) introduced a motion to recommit with instructions in order to repeal the estate tax entirely.  When Pomeroy asked Heller if he knew that his motion to recommit would actually increase the number of people who would have to pay capital gains taxes, Heller seemed to be oblivious and said that the issue could be figured out in committee.

The motion to recommit failed.

Republicans who voted against the bill voted against a tax cut and in favor of increased taxes starting in 2011.  Worse, their procedural attempt to repeal the estate tax would have actually increased taxes for 71,000 families.

Watch the exchange between Pomeroy and Heller.