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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release June 9, 2000


The House has jeopardized our fiscal discipline by passing a costly, irresponsible, and regressive plan to eliminate the estate tax. If this bill were presented to me in its current form, I would veto it without hesitation.

Repealing the estate tax would undermine our record of fiscal discipline as well as the progressivity, fairness, and integrity of the tax system. The cost of this bill explodes from $100 billion this decade to over $750 billion in the following decade, just as the baby boom generation is retiring and Medicare and Social Security are coming under strain. This bill gives the largest estates a windfall while steering only a tiny fraction of the benefits to small businesses and family farms. By the end of the decade, the bill would provide a $50 billion tax break that would provide only 54,000 estates -- about 2 percent of all decedents -- with an average tax cut of $800,000. Furthermore, studies by economists have found that repealing the estate tax would reduce charitable donations by $5 billion to $6 billion per year.

I am supportive of targeted, fiscally responsible legislation, such as the Democratic alternative, to make the estate tax fairer, simpler, and more efficient. I urge the Congressional leadership to work with me to relieve the burden of estate taxes for small businesses and family farms in a fiscally responsible manner this year. We can do this while strengthening Social Security and Medicare, investing in key priorities, and paying down the debt by 2013.