by Max Brantley
A Republican-led effort to slash the estate tax failed to advance by three votes in the Senate today. Needing 60 votes, the measure got a 57-41 vote. It would have raised the tax exemption from $4 million for a couple to $10 million (from $2 million to $5 million for an individual) and dropped the tax rate on estates up to $30 million from 46 percent to 15 percent.
UPDATE: Wal-Mart Watch has a Walton-related comment on the vote, including a handy link to Walton contributions to members of the Senate (a potful, surprise, to Blanche Lincoln, the billionaire's pal). Find it on the jump.
NOTED: Lincoln voted with the Republicans for the windfall for billionaires. Mark Pryor voted no.
WAL-MART WATCH NEWS RELEASE
$8.7 BILLION WALTON JACKPOT DELAYED
“Today’s failed vote is only a small setback for the Walton family’s campaign to abolish the estate tax and increase their inherited wealth by billions. Over the past ten years, the Waltons and their lobbyists have funded think tanks and poured a staggering $800,000 into the political campaigns of 80 current members of the U.S. Senate. Their enormous payoff nearly arrived today, in the form of an $8.7 billion gift from Congress. This legislation, considered while 46 percent of Wal-Mart children are uninsured or on Medicaid, speaks volumes about the Waltons’ self-serving political priorities. The Waltons are spending millions to increase their inherited billions, and we challenge them to spend an equal portion on a fund to provide affordable health care for their employees.”
Background research on the Waltons’ campaign to repeal the estate tax:
Walton and Wal-Mart contributions to 80 of 100