Here is the latest from Washington:
Lincoln/Kyl – The offices of Senators Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ) are working to finalize their estate tax relief proposal. We are in regular contact with our allies on the Hill as they work through the specifics.
Small Business Bill – Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has promised to move as early as tomorrow on a small business jobs bill that the Senate Small Business and Finance Committees have been working on. The bill is expected to be different from the House-passed measure that included the harmful GRAT provision. Senator Reid has stated that he anticipates Republicans will attempt to add estate tax reform to the bill but that he will not allow its inclusion.
Proponents of Higher Taxes – Meanwhile, a group of Senate progressives, including Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) circulated a Dear Colleague letter yesterday announcing their intention to introduce legislation to increase the estate tax burden on families. The so-called “Responsible Estate Tax Act” would reinstate the $3.5 million exemption level; apply rates of 45% to estate values between $3.5 and $10 million, 50% between $10 and $50 million, 55% between $50 and $500 million and 65% over $500 million; eliminate valuation discounts for families and restrict the legitimate use of GRATs. The Senators did not indicate in their letter whether the proposal would even be permanent.