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Permanent Estate Tax Relief Act of 2006

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. HULSHOF. Mr. Speaker, one of the interesting things about sitting through the debate and hearing all of the various points and wanting desperately to respond to each and every one of them, and not having the time to, I would say to my colleague from the Ways and Means Committee from the State of Washington who mentioned that he had taken a phone call from Mr. Gates, I wish the same gentleman would actually take a phone call from the owner of the major metropolitan newspaper from Seattle, Washington, who actually supports permanent repeal of the death tax.

Having said that, I listened to my friend from North Dakota who just spoke. I am mindful that I stood in this same spot on April 13, 2005, on rollcall vote 102 when we, Mr. Cramer and I as lead or chief sponsors of H.R. 8, which was permanent repeal. We had the rollcall vote, and we had an extraordinary bipartisan vote: 272 Members of this body said once and for all it is time to kill the death tax.

There were 42, dare I say courageous, Democrats who voted for complete repeal. I hope my words get to those 42, and I urge that same steadfastness on this compromise. It is my understanding there has been some intense political pressure put on my colleagues across the aisle from their leadership, and I certainly hope they would look at this compromise.

I would say to my friend from North Dakota, this is a compromise. As we debated this bill back in April 2005, he pointed out that H.R. 8, the complete repeal, did not include a step up in basis. This bill does, a complete step up in basis upon death.

The gentleman from North Dakota, when we debated this a year and a half ago, talked about there was no indexing. We fixed that in this bill. There is indexing so that the passage of time and the acceleration or accumulation of assets as they appreciate in value will not suddenly look squarely down the barrel of the death tax bill. And so indexing is part of this.

We heard from the philanthropic community as far as opposition to complete repeal of the death tax because there was a concern about charities and foundations not being fully funded. So this compromise accomplishes their goal to make sure that the philanthropic in this country can continue to provide for those churches, charities and synagogues.

And yet from the other side of the aisle, I think some folks just dusted off the talking points from a year and a half ago, because this is not the bill we debated then.

And my good friend from Georgia, and we are working together on a civil rights bill, to hear the word ``greed,'' or to hear from my friend from California say that only 7,500 families will pay the tax, what about the tens of thousands of American taxpayers, family-owned businesses, that had the same experience that I had of sitting across the mahogany table from their longtime family accountant when my mother passed in 2004?

This 514-acre farm that she and my father had built, that my father had worked for nearly five decades, and I am sitting across the table from this family accountant, and he has an old adding machine with the tape on it, and he is punching in values for each of these assets. The acreage per value, the three tractors, the very used combined, the home that I grew up in, the modest life insurance policy, and suddenly as a Member on the Ways and Means Committee, I break out in a cold sweat because I know when he hits the total button, it is either going to be above an arbitrary line that Congress has set or below it. I know that if it is above that line, that I am probably going to have to sell off some of this family business, this farm I grew up on, just to pay the government.

What is ironic is if my mother had passed away 4 months earlier, I would have had to have sold a significant part of that farm just to pay the tax.

This is a very usable compromise, and I would say the fact we are here, of course, is that there is a determined minority in the other body that has used the Senate's rules and procedures to deny that complete repeal that we have been working for. This is a compromise that deserves bipartisan support. I urge its passage.


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