Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, two of only nine Democrats to vote in favor of raising the federal estate tax exemption from $7 million to $10 million, and lowering the top rate from 45% to 35%, apparently both told Publicola’s Chris Kissel that they did so to reduce the financial strain on “small businesses.”
“Small businesses are hurting and we need to make sure they’re protected,” said Murray spokeswoman Alex Glass.
Um… define “small,” but… whatever.
Kissel goes on to suggest the real motivation behind our senators’ vote:
The measure will have the greatest impact on wealthy folks like Seattle Times publisher Frank Blethen, who unsuccessfully lobbied both Murray and Cantwell to vote for a repeal of the estate tax in 2006. That same year, voters here rejected a measure that would have repealed Washington State’s estate tax.
Gee, I dunno. With McClatchy essentially writing off its 49.5% stake in the Times, I’m not so sure that lowering the estate tax’s top rate helps Blethen and his heirs all that much. I mean, 35% of zero is still zero, isn’t it?
Talk about a clever estate planning strategy.