On June 29, President Obama took his case that any debt limit extension should include tax increases directly to the people. Republican legislative leaders had previously walked away from negotiations due to their insistence that no tax increases be included. The President spoke specifically about increasing taxes on “millionaires and billionaires,” naming corporate jet owners and oil companies as specific examples, instead of reducing funding on priorities such as education, medical research and food safety. Details on particular tax policy changes desired by the White House have not been released. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) reiterated that tax increases were a non-starter, noting that a deficit reduction deal with new taxes could not pass in his chamber.
Also on June 29, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) announced that Senate Democrats had come to an agreement on the budget, which if followed would be expected to reduce the deficit by $4 billion over the next ten years. The House passed its controversial version of the FY 2012 budget in April. Conrad indicated that the messaging of Senate Democrats would focus on the need for “fairness” in the effort to reduce the deficit, protecting Medicare and Medicaid, increasing tax revenues, ensuring continued stimulative spending and cutting both defense and social spending. While budgets are non-binding, they significantly impact policy development and priorities in Congress and reflect the broader debate.
While estate tax reform has not yet been mentioned in the high stakes public discussions on deficit reduction, Policy and Taxation Group is paying close attention.