December 16 2010

Who Rocks the House?

Hadley Heath

Our Representatives in the House are hung up in a rules fight.  They want to vote on the Senate-approved tax deal, but they also want to vote on a different version of it with a harsher treatment of the estate tax.

So now, according to Fox News... nothing is happening right now:

But before any of [the votes] could happen, the so-called "rule" -- the legislative device that has to be approved before a bill can come to the floor -- was pulled. The House has since gone into recess. 

A senior House aide told Fox News that the House Rules Committee will try to rework the language in hopes of salvaging a vote on the package Thursday. 

"We can't go anywhere anyway -- it's snowing," the aide said. 

Rules Committee Chairwoman Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., said "just about everybody" had a problem with the rule, which would have allowed for a vote on the estate-tax alternative. The primary complaint was that members were concerned that if the alternative bill passed, they would not be able to cast a vote on the Senate version -- they wanted to be able to vote on both packages no matter what. 

My favorite part is "We can't go anywhere anyway!"  Looks like it's not Republicans who are taking hostages now, but the whole Congress is held hostage by Washington's weather.

 Well, when they do get back to debating and voting, let's hope that both parties understand the estate tax and all it means.  Proponents of a harsh estate tax want to use it as a class-warfare political tactic. They think that if they raise tax rates that "only affect the wealthy," they'll get more revenue without losing votes.  But treating socioeconomic classes so differently - even by soaking the rich - is contrary to the American dream of moving up.  I read about this very concept earlier this week in a William McGurn piece in the Wall Street Journal:

 The American people understand this. It's not just tea partiers or those who work on Wall Street. Many years ago, the activist Michael Harrington-he, like Mr. Sanders, a self-declared socialist-wrote about the experience a friend of his had while campaigning in 1972 for George McGovern among the mostly black and Latina workers of New York City's garment district.

Harrington told his friend that he must have had an easy time selling the candidate, given Mr. McGovern's proposal for a 100% tax on every dollar over $500,000 of inheritance. This, Harrington thought, must have especially appealed to garment workers laboring for very low pay.

The friend informed Harrington how wrong he was: "Those underpaid women . . . were outraged that the government would confiscate the money they would hand down to their children if they made a million dollars." No matter how he tried to tell these garment workers how unlikely they ever were to see a million dollars in their lifetimes, they couldn't get past the idea that the government would take it from them if they did.

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