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June 21, 2006

New estate tax attack on Cantwell

Posted by David Postman at 7:48 AM

Grandpa didn't work, so now come the vultures. The Free Enterprise Fund, a business lobby group with solid GOP ties, is running a new TV ad in Washington state today attacking Sen. Maria Cantwell for her vote against permanent repeal of the estate tax.

The ad features vultures circling, feasting on a carcass and then superimposes the senator's head on a vulture, because, as the ad says in case the metaphor is lost, "It's a vulture of a tax." Last month the group aired a commercial showing an old man and a young boy going fishing with sentimental music as the soundtrack to the anti-tax entreaty.

The group was founded by Stephen Moore who used to lead the Club for Growth, a major source of Republican campaign money, and has been dogging Cantwell since last year.

There have been many national reports that Cantwell is one of the Democratic senators that Bill Frist is looking to for a possible vote on another run at estate tax repeal. It's not clear how sticking Cantwell's head on a vulture will affect that effort, but the Free Enterprise Fund isn't interested in a compromise that has been talked about as a way to get Democratic votes. The group's communications director, Todd Schorle, told me this morning, "We are still in this for the full repeal and we want to educate people about Cantwell's vote and that she has a second chance to do right here and vote for repeal."

It is not clear how many times the ad will air here. It is part of a $3.7 million nationwide campaign. Schorle would not say how much of that has been spent on TV time here, but did say "the only way you would not see this ad is if all you watch is PBS."

UPDATE: It's not just pro-business, conservative groups that dislike the idea of a compromise on repealing the estate tax. From the other side of the spectrum, and the other side of the country, the Washington State Budget & Policy Center, issued a paper with its critique of the plan by Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Arizona, which has been touted as a possible compromise to win Democratic votes.

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