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                     Office of the Press Secretary
                          (New York, New York)
For Immediate Release                                  September 7, 2000


I commend the House members who voted today to reject the majority's flawed estate tax bill. While I support estate tax relief that addresses family farms, small businesses, and principal residences, the approach taken by the majority in Congress is part of a $2 trillion tax plan that would take us back to the days of deficits, high interest rates, and fiscal irresponsibility. This is a misguided bill that provides a huge tax cut for the most well-off Americans at the expense of working families. It is a key ingredient of a Republican tax plan that would leave nothing for Social Security, Medicare, education, or a voluntary, affordable prescription drug benefit.

This back-loaded bill explodes in cost from $100 billion from 2001-10 to $750 billion from 2011-20, just when Medicare and Social Security will come under strain. It benefits only 2% of all estates in America, and provides half of its benefits to about 3,000 families annually, while more than 10 million Americans wait for an increase in the minimum wage and tens of millions of seniors lack dependable prescription drug coverage. Furthermore, studies by economists have found that repealing the estate tax would reduce charitable donations by $5 billion to $6 billion per year.

If the Congressional leadership is serious about estate tax relief for small businesses, family farms, and principal residences of middle-class families that have increased in value, they should work with me in a fiscally responsible manner as Democrats in Congress have proposed. Together, we can strengthen Social Security and Medicare, invest in key priorities, and pay off the debt by 2012. This is the right priority for America.