It’s not necessarily that Chris Van Hollen has a problem with Paris Hilton, it’s just that he thinks there are causes more deserving of American dollars.
In an op-ed for the Washington Post this morning, Van Hollen, who will be the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee in the next Congress, called for a change to the estate-tax provision in the current version of the tax-cut compromise put forth by President Obama.
“With Washington Republicans sharpening their budget knives to cut spending on national priorities such as education, border security, and public safety, it is hard to believe they think it's wise to give a windfall to heirs such as Paris Hilton," he writes.
Van Hollen called the provision, set forth by Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., “a tax-cut bonanza to the super-rich estates.” Without any action from Congress, the tax on estates worth more than $1 million will rise to 55 percent. The proposal by Kyl would exempt coverage of the first $5 million for individuals ($10 million for couples) and lower the tax rate on the remainder to 35 percent. According to Van Hollen, this will cost the country $23 billion to give an average annual tax break of more than $1.5 million to about 6,600 estates.
Van Hollen says that this proposal is an example of the GOP overplaying its hand but still winning.
“The common-sense compromise would have left the exemptions at the 2009 levels of $3.5 million for individuals and $7 million for couples and the rate at 45 percent,” he writes. He notes that those were the highest exemptions and lowest rates under the Bush plan until this year.
Absent congressional action, on January 1 the tax rate will rise to 55 percent on estates valued at more than $1 million. The "common-sense compromise" would have left the exemptions at the 2009 levels of $3.5 million for individuals and $7 million for couples, and the rate at 45 percent. Those are the highest exemptions and lowest rates reached under the Bush plan until this year. The Kyl proposal, however, changes that exemption to cover the first $5 million for individuals and $10 million for couples, and sets a 35 percent rate on the remainder. In other words, for an additional $23 billion on our nation's credit card, the Kyl proposal provides an average tax break of more than $1.5 million to roughly 6,600 estates a year.
“The Kyl estate tax provision will not help economic growth or jobs,” Van Hollen writes. “This last-minute $23 billion giveaway made payable to the wealthiest estates in the country -- which digs us deeper into debt without adding a single job -- is simply a bad deal for the American people.”