Now that the House is well-rested from its most recent two-week vacation, it's back to the hard work of working hard for hardworking Americans. By which, of course, we mean the millionaires:

The House voted Thursday to repeal the estate tax, a longtime priority of Republicans that also spurred Democratic charges that the GOP is in the pockets of the rich.

Why in the world would Democrats accuse Republicans of looking out for the rich, when they're just trying to pass a tax cut to help America's middle-class because the GOP cares about income inequality and all that commie Marxist hippie Elizabeth Warren stuff too!

Under current law, individuals with estates of under $5.43 million this year, and couples with $10.86 million estates, are exempt from paying the tax. Estates pay a maximum rate of 40 percent on the amount of assets above those levels.

Oh, that's right. The estate tax doesn't affect most American families. Unless most American families have estates worth $10 million (or a mere $5 million for those struggling single moms and dads out there), the estate tax already does not touch them. But we think not?

The Joint Committee on Taxation projects that the estate tax will hit 5,400 estates in 2015, or roughly 0.2 percent of the 2.6 million deaths expected in the U.S. this year.

So the kids of a few thousand families will have to give away the money their parents earned so they don't have get jobs to mean ol' Uncle Sam, unless Republicans succeed in repealing the estate tax, which they won't, but that's no reason not to spend time on it and make statements about the struggling upper class:

“Can you imagine working your whole life to build up a family-owned business or a farm, and then upon your death, Uncle Sam swoops in and takes nearly half of what you spent a lifetime building up for your children and grandchildren?” said Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), the bill's sponsor.

You know, we cannot imagine that, actually, because our parents do not have $5 million each to leave us, so when they do the mortal-coil shuffle, we'll just be stuck figuring out how to get rid of Mom's ridiculously oversized antique furniture and Dad's epic DVD collection. But Republicans insist is this about those Norman Rockwell-esque family farms, which will be taxed and burdened out of existence, SAD FACE. Are they right? Let's ask The Google:

Over the years, a number of targeted provisions have been enacted to reduce the burden of the estate tax on farms and small business owners. These include a special provision that allows farm real estate to be valued at farm-use value rather than at its fair-market value, an installment payment provision, and a special deduction for family-owned business interests. A provision aimed at encouraging farmers and other landowners to donate an easement or other restriction on development has provided additional estate tax savings. These provisions have reduced the potential impact of estate taxes on the transfer of a farm or other small business to the next generation [...]

Based on 2011 ARMS data, the average value of farm assets for larger family farms was roughly $3.2 million.

Well, that was easy, and surprise! Republicans are wrong. As usual.

But still, it's not as if giving a tax cut to the heirs of the rich will have any negative impact, so why not?

Killing off the estate tax would increase the deficit by $269 billion over a decade.

Huh, yeah, that seems like a pretty good why not reason. Which of course is why giving yet another tax cut to America's millionaires is a top priority for this Republican Congress. Now if they can just pass their budget to repeal Obamacare, cut food stamps and student financial aid, slash climate change research, and beef up the Pentagon's piggy bank, America will really be on the right track.

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[The Hill / USDA]


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