Republicans, Blue Dogs target estate tax

The repeal legislation, introduced Wednesday, has also been signed on to by a pair of Republicans, Reps. Kristi Noem of South Dakota and Devin Nunes of California, and another member of the Blue Dog coalition, Rep. Dan Boren of Oklahoma. Ross said on the conference call that the Blue Dogs as a whole had no official position on the repeal measure. 

The estate tax rate has pinballed back and forth over the last few years. Under the tax-cut compromise enacted late last year, a rate of 35 percent was installed through 2012 on estates worth $5 million or more. 

Many Democrats were upset with those parameters, which were more generous than the 2009 rates of 45 percent for estates valued at least $3.5 million. The estate tax expired at the end of 2009 and temporarily vanished from the tax code in 2010. 

On Thursday’s call, Brady cited conservative economic research that said repealing the estate tax would pour billions of extra dollars into the economy. 

Still, The New York Times reported in December, citing estimates from Alan Rothschild of the American Bar Association, that the current estate tax could apply to less than 0.5 percent of those who die in 2011. 

And with some Democrats having signaled that they believe the estate tax could be strengthened, Brady acknowledged on the call that getting the Democratic-controlled Senate on board with his proposal would be a challenge. 

But he also said that he thought Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, would at least consider the proposal in his drive to overhaul the country’s tax code. 

Camp said recently that he wanted to bring both the top individual and corporate rates down to 25 percent, from a current high of 35 percent. It could reportedly take the elimination of around $2 trillion in tax breaks and loopholes to reduce rates that much without adding to the deficit. 

With the GOP now firmly in control of the House, Brady said he did not believe the chamber would require a repeal of the estate tax to be offset with other revenue, a situation he was far from certain could be repeated in the Senate. 

The Texas congressman also indicated that he was worried that senators might not feel the urgency to deal with the estate tax right now, given that lawmakers just enacted new rates less than four months ago.