Senate advocate for nation's wealthiest is also blocking START treaty

Of all the elements revealing the influence of the nation's super rich and the corrupted nature of our political system, none does more so than the proposed estate tax in the proposed tax bill compromise.

The agreement between President Obama and the Republicans would set an estate tax exemption of $5 million per person, and a maximum rate of 35 percent, for two years.

Now we learn in The New York Times that its chief advocate in the U.S. senate is working on behalf of the wealthiest of the wealthy in our nation and playing politics with nuclear disarmament.

The estate tax lapsed this year, but is scheduled to return on Jan. 1 with an effective exclusion of $1 million, and a maximum rate of 55 percent.

Here's what the Times writes today:

The provision included in the deal with Republicans mirrors language in an estate tax proposal previously championed by Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, the No. 2 Republican, and Senator Blanche Lincoln, Democrat of Arkansas.

Mr. Kyl was the lead negotiator for Senate Republicans in the formal tax cut negotiations. At the same time, he was also the lead Republican threatening to hold up the New Start arms control treaty with Russia, a top priority for the White House.

Many Democrats on Capitol Hill believe that Mr. Kyl was able to secure the agreement on the estate tax because of the leverage he held over the arms treaty. Republicans and the White House insist that the two issues were never connected. But Democrats said they did not believe that Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who helped nail down the agreement with Republicans, made any effort to negotiate on the estate tax, suggesting the outcome was preordained.

Republicans who have long opposed the estate tax, deriding it as the “death tax” and complaining it amounted to double taxation, have said little publicly about it in recent days. Privately, however, many acknowledge that it is a far better deal than they ever expected.

The White House has made no effort to defend the estate tax provision or suggest that there is any economic merit to the proposal. Aides said that Mr. Obama had agreed to it only reluctantly to secure the overall deal.


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