Unemployment Benefits Used As Bargaining Chip In Estate Tax Battle

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"In a series of comments over the past few days, Senators Kyl and Grassley have made clear their willingness to hold up unemployment benefits for struggling Americans as a bargaining chip to permanently weaken the federal estate tax, and further enrich America's wealthiest families.

'Why are Senators Kyl and Grassley more worried about enriching the heirs of multimillionaires than about helping Americans hit hardest by the recession?' asks Lee Farris, Estate Tax Policy Coordinator at United for a Fair Economy (UFE). 'It is an outrage that they are willing to hold struggling Americans hostage in their efforts to secure another huge tax cut for the wealthy Wall Street crowd that crashed our economy in the first place!'

The $15 billion jobs bill that passed on Wednesday did not extend unemployment benefits or the COBRA health insurance subsidy. As a result, more than a million people will run out of benefits next month if the deadline is not extended, prompting Congress to begin debate over extending those benefits. But Senators Kyl and Grassley are ready to block it to get their way.

Minority Whip Senator Kyl, who has been a leader in efforts to weaken the federal estate tax, stated on Feb. 24 that Republicans will block consideration of the new unemployment benefits bill unless they get 'a path forward fairly soon' to voting on a permanent, and weakened estate tax. And earlier this month, Senator Grassley said that 'timely consideration of permanent bipartisan estate and gift tax reform' is 'essential to completing action on' a previous jobs bill."

Read the full press release on CommonDreams.org.

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