Kyl Does The Despicable: Holds Unemployment Benefits Hostage For Estate Tax Cut

McJoan at DailyKos says it best: “How despicable can these guys get?”

This is how despicable: Starting Monday, 1.1 million people will lose their unemployment benefits because right-wing Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., thinks its more important to give tax breaks to millionaires than to ensure that nearly broke people won’t get thrown out of their homes or go hungry.

In Kyl’s own words, in the context of Senate action on an extension of unemployment insurance benefits (h/t to Pat Garofolo at the Wonk Room): “I will insist on an agreement on how to proceed [on the estate tax], if we’re going to have unanimous consent on how to proceed with any of these subsequent bills.”

Conservatives have dragged us down this low road before. Last year, they tried to eliminate the estate tax—a tax that affects only about 5,800 estates, those in excess of $3.5 million for single people or $7 million for couples—for estates worth less than $10 million and lowers it from 45 percent to 35 percent to those above $10 million. Ten Democrats, in fact, had joined Republicans in supporting an estate-tax-cut amendment to the 2010 budget resolution. (This 2008 fact sheet has background on the estate tax and other tax issues.)

The Campaign for America’s Future joined with other organizations in demanding that the vote be reversed, and it was.

It is, of course, hypocritical for Kyl to feign concern about the federal debt on the one hand and push a move that will cost the federal government $300 billion over the next 10 years—at a time when even deficit hawk extraordinaire David M. Walker partners with the Economic Policy Institute’s Lawrence Mishel with the message that the top short-term priority for the federal government must be job creation, not reducing the deficit. Of course, cutting the estate tax, unlike other tax cuts for investment or hiring, does not create one single job.

But, most importantly, are conservatives that sold out to the wealthy that they are prepared to see unemployed person evicted from their homes because they can’t make a rent or mortgage payment—so that the children of the wealthy live more luxuriously.

Tell Sen. Kyl and the senator in your state that this crosses the line. Kyl’s office numbers are: (202) 224-4521, (602) 840-1891, and (520) 575-8633. You can e-mail his office using this form.


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