Today, the House voted 225-200 to permanently extend the estate tax at its 2009 level, which is 45 percent for estates valued at more than $3.5 million ($7 million for a couple). Due to a Bush-era accounting gimmick, the estate tax was set to disappear in 2010, and come back in 2011 at a 55 percent rate on estates of $1 million. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), however, took to the floor to oppose the extension, complaining that his his great aunt once had to pay the 55 percent rate. Gohmert continued by arguing Jesus wouldn’t have wanted an estate tax:
Now, after someone dies and someone comes in and steals from them, we consider that in most society reprehensible. … But when the government comes in, because we have the power to pass laws and legalize theft that otherwise would be considered reprehensible, it’s okay. But it is not okay. … Jesus never advocated the government go steal. He said ‘you do it. Do it with your own money, don’t steal it from somebody else.’ And that is why this should not pass.
Apparently, Gohmert either doesn’t adhere to or hasn’t heard of Jesus’ admonition: “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” An estate tax at the 2009 level exempts 99.8 percent of estates and affects about 100 small businesses and farms, almost all of which will be able to pay the tax without selling assets. The estate tax debate now moves to the Senate, where Sens. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ) want to enact a cut that would cost $250 billion over ten years and overwhelmingly benefit wealthy families.