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Have Rural Senators Gotten Wake-Up Call? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Steve Dittmer   
Thursday, 03 August 2006
AFF Sentinel Vol.3 #19
Another Chance to Call Them To Account

Family farmers and ranchers, as well as small businesses, may find out Friday if rural U.S. Senators have heard their pleas for death tax relief.

While full repeal isn't on the table, the Republican leadership has refused to give up on substantially reducing the death tax burden on family businesses. To improve their full-court press, the leadership has paired the death tax relief with a provision for an increase in the minimum wage, making it difficult for the Democrats to vote against.

The Republicans had recently tried bunching the estate tax provisions with pension reforms the Democrats wanted but the bunch wasn't holding together. So the leadership has paired the death tax with the minimum wage, plus added some other minor provisions geared toward gaining specific Senators' votes.

It should be noted that Senate Democrats do not have enough votes to keep the bill from passing. They have used their obstructionist tactics on the death tax issue, using the threat of a filibuster to keep death tax bills off the floor. As we noted in our Sentinel on the last vote (Vol.3 #13), 57 Senators favored a repeal vote but it takes 60 votes to force cloture and get the bill to the floor. Under relatively recent Senate rules, the minority can rule.

The opposition could hold the filibuster only because certain rural state senators joined with the liberals. Majority Leader Frist looks set to file a cloture motion on H.R. 5970 and is hoping to get enough favorable votes Friday to bring to bill to the floor for a vote.

In June, we suggested that unhappy cattlemen in certain rural states might consider calling to account Senators who give lip service to family farms and then vote with the leftists and elitists against the capitalism that creates strong family farms. Senators Kennedy, Kerry, Boxer, Feinstein, Durbin, Obama, Reid, Leahy, Finegold and Byrd had allies in voting against even considering Death Tax repeal last time. Harkin from Iowa, Conrad and Dorgan from North Dakota, Johnson from South Dakota, Salazar from Colorado, Pryor from Arkansas, Bayh from Indiana and Bingaman from New Mexico were the culprits.

These Senators somehow envision family farms that can survive without accumulating family capital but instead giving it to the government, without the ability to grow ranches and keep sons and daughters in the operation. That can only mean these Senators favor family farms and ranches more dependent on big government to survive. Businesses need more capital, scale and tax relief to remain viable. These Senators evidently don't want that to happen through free enterprise. They must want it through increased government subsidy, control and regulation of agriculture and small business.

Ironically, the businesses best able to weather such government interference are the largest operations, the opposite of the small operations these short-sighted Senators say they favor. Evidently they don't want to give smaller family operations the chance to grow bigger, preferring to break up family businesses into less viable units or destroy them totally.

The pressure to bring this to a vote now stems from upcoming elections. The Republicans want Democrats to think hard about having to face voters this fall having voted against death tax relief and the minimum wage increase.

It's not a perfect bill. The death tax is a bad tax that should be repealed rather than doctored. The minimum wage eliminates jobs for the entry level worker and the poor it is supposedly helping. But politics is often compromise - not strictly solid economics.

If they favor death tax relief, it's up to cattlemen to contact their rural senators and buck up the ones who have helped. The big key is those rural Senators who want to retain a key weapon that prevents farmers, ranchers and businessmen from passing their life's work on to the next generation. There's still time to contact them.

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Last Updated ( Friday, 01 September 2006 )
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