Pelosi: Estate Tax Repeal is Reverse Robin Hood

Apr 13, 2005
Press Release

Pelosi: Estate Tax Repeal is Reverse Robin Hood

Washington, D.C. - House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor today in opposition to Republican legislation that would repeal the estate tax, rewarding the extremely wealthy at the expense of middle-class Americans. She also spoke in favor of a Democratic substitute proposed by Rep. Earl Pomeroy of North Dakota, which would exempt 99.7 percent of all estates in America. Below are Pelosi's remarks:

"Mr. Speaker, in the 20th Century, our country made a decision to honor our American value of fairness by moving toward a progressive system of taxation. But under 10 years of Republican rule, this Congress has consistently passed legislation that has moved away from a progressive tax code.

"The Majority's tax policies have rewarded wealth over work. In its analysis of the President's budget, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that the tax rate on wage income is nearly twice the rate of capital income, unearned income.

"And now today, the Majority party has come to the floor with an estate tax bill continuing their harmful approach. Their estate tax bill again rewards extreme wealth. The Majority approach would hurt more people than it helps by increasing taxes and administrative burdens on more than 71,000 estates. And it comes at a staggering cost of nearly $1 trillion over 10 years once it takes full effect.

"Democrats want to be fair to all Americans, and we support being able to pass on a better life to our children and grandchildren. But we cannot support putting luxury before the needs of America's families.

"The Pomeroy substitute would provide relief to 99.7 percent of estates in America. Just three-tenths of a percent of estates would not be covered under the bill. That is a small percentage, but a huge amount of money being deprived from the national treasury.

"The savings achieved from pursuing the more fair and targeted approach put forward by Mr. Pomeroy would cover about one-half of the long-term shortfall facing Social Security. Think of it: If we pass Mr. Pomeroy's bill, the savings would cover one half of the shortfall in Social Security down the road. It would strengthen Social Security for generations to come.

"That is the choice we are facing today: Do we want to put the wealthiest 0.3 percent of estates-holders ahead of the millions of American workers who have earned their Social Security benefits with a lifetime of work?

"Do we want to continue these reckless tax policies or do we want to return to a fair system of taxation?

"What the Majority is saying to average working families in America: 'Every day you go to work and every paycheck, money is taken from your paycheck for Social Security.' What they are doing today is putting their hands into that pot and saying, 'We are taking that money, and we are going to subsidize the largest, wealthiest estates in our country, the top 0.3 percent.'

"So let's come down and vote for America's workers. Let's come down in favor of America's families, and let's recognize that everybody, the wealthiest as well as those not so wealthy, that everyone in America benefits when we have fairness in our tax code, where we have balance in our budget in terms of our values and in terms of our fiscal responsibility.

"I urge my colleagues to support the responsible Pomeroy substitute and vote no on the irresponsible and reckless proposal."

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