“When it comes to dealing with issues within the caucus, the estate tax has always been amongst the most difficult that Sen. Reid has to juggle,” Manley said. “It may only affect a small number of Americans, but boy does it cause sharp debates within the caucus.”
Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.), who defeated Lincoln in her 2010 re-election bid, has gone even further. Last week, he proposed a complete elimination of the tax.
“Death shouldn’t be taxable. It should not force the sale of family farms or the closure of small businesses,” Boozman said last week.
The House plan will include extended relief from the estate tax and the alternative minimum tax. Despite the unlikelihood of such a plan having a chance in the Senate, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy pushed back on the idea that the House is simply taking political show votes.
“I don’t see a tax hike looming before you, where it hits every single American, as a show vote to try to stop it,”the California Republican said. “I see an inactive Senate. ... What I hear from the Senate is they want to take everyone off the [fiscal] cliff. That’s a show. That’s a political show.”
He said he has been hosting listening sessions for Members with other GOP leaders, including Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (Mich.), Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (Wis.) and Chief Deputy Majority Whip Peter Roskam (Ill.).
The point is to prime the rank and file for a vote to extend the Bush-era tax cuts in their entirety, plus a resolution outlining GOP principles for tax reform, including a fast-track mechanism that would force a vote overhauling the tax code next year.
“If the Democrats would like to offer an amendment and put up the president’s tax increase and they’re willing to do that, then that could be put to a vote,” McCarthy said.
A senior Democratic leadership aide confirmed they plan to bring up some alternative that would resemble the president’s plan to extend the tax cuts only for those earning less than $250,000 annually.
In the meantime, both parties are using the issue to take political shots at each other. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sent releases on Monday to media outlets in the districts of 60 Republicans they see as electorally vulnerable.
On the other side, Republicans are readying their “Stop the Tax Hike Day” push, for which McCarthy said about 20 district events have already been scheduled to take place Friday. Members are expected to speak about why a tax increase on high-income earners would negatively affect the economy and job creation.