Conrad says tax bill will pass, seeks changes to estate tax

Congress will approve bipartisan tax legislation brokered by the White House and Senate Republicans with few, if any, changes, lawmakers said Friday. 

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the incoming chairman of the House Budget Committee in the 112th Congress, and Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) agreed that the plan will go forward, although Conrad is keen to see the House adjust the estate tax rate. 

"I hope the estate tax provisions are changed, because they went too far on estate tax relief," Conrad said during an interview airing this weekend on Bloomberg Television’s "Political Capital with Al Hunt."

"I think [the tax cut deal is] more likely to be changed in the House. It needs to be changed, because, frankly, we just can't afford that kind of giveaway to the very wealthiest among us," he said.

Conrad suggested his proposal of a 45 percent rate with an exemption of $3.5 million rather than 35 percent rate with a $5 million level included compromise legislation that will be considered first in the Senate on Monday. 

Ryan said that while there's a lot in the compromise he doesn't like, he supports the deal on extending current tax rates for two years, along with the payroll tax holiday and the 13-month extension of unemployment benefits. 

"I do support this deal. It's the best we're going to get, I think," he said. "A deal is a deal. We have an agreement. And that ought to be honored, and it should pass soon, so we don't create this volatility in the economy."