White House officials on Monday blasted an upcoming House GOP vote to repeal the estate tax, saying it set up a stark contrast with President Obama’s proposals aimed at giving tax relief to the middle class.
Jason FurmanJason FurmanInflation offers steep hike for Biden Perplexing jobs report raises concerns about absent workers Manchin's 'intervention' may have saved the Democratic Party — for now MORE, the chairman of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, cast the estate tax repeal as a giveaway to the richest of the rich – helping just 5,400 families out of the millions in the U.S.
“That’s not even a tax cut for employers,” Furman said on a conference call with reporters. “That’s a tax cut on the wealth of some of the very wealthiest people in the country.”
The House is scheduled to vote this week to repeal the estate tax, with floor action timed to coincide with the April 15 tax filing deadline. The tax currently affects families with estates hovering around $11 million, with the rate coming in at 40 percent.
The GOP repeal measure would cost around $270 billion over a decade, a price tag that Furman hammered on Monday’s conference call. Cecilia Munoz, the director of the White House’s Domestic Policy Council, noted that 970 families would get assistance from the estate tax repeal, but that more than two million households would get a hand from Obama’s proposed tax incentive for families with two earners.
That figure is part of a new White House report that seeks to detail the impact of Obama’s most recent batch of tax proposals would have on a state-by-state basis.
The president has also floated new credits for child care, overhauling education incentives and expanding preferences like the Earned Income Tax Credit – all to be paid for by raising the tax rate on capital gains and other tax hikes aimed at the wealthy.
Furman and Munoz maintained Monday that those proposals would augment the tax changes that Obama has already implemented – including raising the tax rates on the country’s highest earners – that they said had helped boost the current economic recovery.
“I don’t think the vast majority of economists would tell you that eliminating the estate tax is the way to raise wages for middle class families,” Furman said.
Still, Republicans – along with their business and farming backers – clearly believe that pushing for estate tax repeal helps them politically, as they too start looking toward 2016. Republicans have long derided what they call the “death” tax, and have said that they believe voters think the tax is unfair.
The back-and-forth over the estate tax also shows once more how divided the two parties are over taxes, despite some optimism this year that Obama and congressional Republicans could work together on revamping taxes for businesses.
“Death should not be a taxable event,” Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSmall ranchers say Biden letting them get squeezed These Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Watch: GOP leaders discuss Biden's first year in office MORE (R-S.D.), the sponsor of the Senate bill to repeal the estate tax, said last month. “For too long the federal government has forced grieving families to pay a tax on their loved one’s life savings that has been built from income already taxed when originally earned.”