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June 9, 2006

Another run at the federal estate tax?

Posted by David Postman at 7:51 AM

Both Washington senators voted against repeal of the federal estate tax yesterday. But it is clear from reading the papers this morning that the fight isn't over. And a lot of attention is focused on Maria Cantwell as a possible swing vote in a compromise plan.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Senate Leader Bill Frist "hopes to win over" a small group of senators, including Cantwell, for a second run at repealing the tax. "Yesterday afternoon, Ms. Cantwell, Ms. Landrieu and other Senate Democrats met in Mr. Frist's office to discuss a deal," according to the Journal.

And on its editorial page, the Journal says that Cantwell and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana "were so torn on the vote that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid wouldn't let them out of his sight until it was over." You can read it here thanks to Economics and Liberty.

People on both sides of the estate tax issue have their eye on Cantwell. Robert Kuttner in the Boston Globe, included Patty Murray, too as a potential swing senator in a pre-vote piece:

"Who exactly needs Cantwell and Murray to support another huge tax cut for the wealthiest? Their own families? Campaign contributors?"

I'll watch for the Kuttner follow up.

Human Events mentions Cantwell in its piece arguing against the "angry left's class warfare," though she's not among the angry or the left.

UPDATE: Cantwell's staff says there were not many details discussed in the meeting with Frist yesterday. The statement Cantwell issued yesterday does make clear that she's open to a compromise:

"I support repealing the estate tax for small businesses and family farms. A 55 percent tax rate is unfair for America's small businesses and family farms who deserve tax fairness. It's my hope that we can find an estate tax reform compromise before this expires in 2011. The vote today the Republican majority pushed was a vote for full repeal " sneaking in tax cuts to multi-millionaires at the expense of education, healthcare, and other vital initiatives. We need reform, but this reform must be within reason. We need a well thought-out policy, and I will continue push for a compromise that will truly help America prosper."

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