Death tax survives veto override attempt

Death tax survives veto override attempt

On September 7, by a vote of 274 to 157, the House failed to override President Clinton’s veto of the Death Tax Repeal bill (HR 8). The House had passed the bill on June 9 by a 279-to-136 vote, but more members were present this time and Democratic leaders successfully brought 13 former Democratic supporters into the party fold, enough to deny the bill the two-thirds majority (294 in this case) needed to override a veto.

The bill, vetoed on August 31, would have taken 10 years to repeal the estate and gift taxes, which require heirs to pay taxes on inheritances over $675,000 at rates reaching as high as 55%. The measure would have begun by raising the exemption and eventually cut the rates, with most of the savings to taxpayers coming in the tenth year of the bill.

Democrats, led by Rep. Dick Gephardt (Mo.)-the man who would be speaker if the GOP were to lose the House in November-argued that the tax break would help only the rich. “The people in my district, like 1 expect the people in my colleagues’ districts, are not interested in tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans. They are not interested in going back to the Reagan years, the Bush years of red ink and large deficits and high interest rates and high inflation and high unemployment.”

Retiring Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Bill Archer (R: Tex.) rebutted the Democrats’ class– warfare assaults. “Now the Democrats will say, Oh, there are only 2% of the people that are affected, 98% get nothing; the 2% that die are not the receivers of the legacy, it is often spread out amongst hundreds of people. And they do not consider the jobs that are created by the 98% who work in those family farms and businesses unaffected. They say they are unaffected. They are affected directly. They lose their jobs.”

The sole Republican defector was Nebraska moderate Rep. Doug Bereuter, who made it clear in June that his support for the measure was not absolute. Bereuter (American Conservative Union rating: 69%) said then that he did “not support the complete elimination of inheritance taxes,” and that his “vote for this legislation only should be regarded as a demonstration of his desire to move the inheritance tax reform process forward by increasing dramatically the exemption level to the federal inheritance tax.”

A “yes” vote was a vote to cut and eventually repeal the federal taxes on estates and gifts over the President’s veto. A “no” vote was a vote against the bill, and a vote affirming the President’s position.

Copyright Human Events Publishing, Inc. Sep 22, 2000

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