Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and other supporters of full repeal of the inheritance tax admit they are “well short of the 60 votes required to take up a full repeal measure.” Formerly inaccurately called a “death tax,” it is now more appropriately identified by the name of the bed-hopping hotel heiress.

Senate aides say that if the full repeal vote fails, Frist plans to “drop the issue for now to let the dust settle and allow compromise talks to continue behind the scenes before settling on a course of action.”

The exemption level is $2 million ($4 million per couple), which means only 5 out of every 1,000 people who die pay the estate tax, so the repeal would offer absolutely no tax relief to the overwhelming majority of American citizens.

Nevertheless, the Senate leadership, with elections coming up and the party in deep, deep trouble, is trying to soothe its disenchanted base by hawking the idea again. The majority of Americans, however, rank terrorism, Iraq, gas prices, and the economy as nation’s most pressing priorities.

The right wing has been on a mission to define the tax on inherited wealth as a “death tax.” That’s another right wing lie. While 2.4 million Americans die each year, the federal government only collects taxes on 12,600 estates, meaning only 0.5 percent of Americans who die pay any estate tax under current exemption levels.

“Calling this a 'death tax' as if it applies to all, or even many, Americans who die, is truly false advertising.

Another lie the right wing peddles is that the estate tax puts farmers and family-owned business owners out of business. Forced to the pay enormous tax bills, the story goes, farmers have to sell off the family farm to pay the tax man. Somebody name one.

Paris Hilton is no farmer, but this lie has been effective in convincing the public that a third of all U. S. families must pay estate taxes, which is totally untrue.

A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report looked at these claims and “exploded the myth that family farms and businesses must be sold to pay the tax.”

CBO found under the 2009 estate tax schedule ($7 million per couple), the “number of family-owned small businesses required to pay any taxes in the year 2000 would have been just 94,” and the “number of family farms that would have had to sell any assets to pay that tax would have been 13.”

Those who would benefit most are the ones pushing hardest for estate tax repeal. Passing this massive tax cut for the super-rich would mean “830 of the best-off estates in the country would split an estimated $14 billion in tax breaks each year, or $16 million per estate.”

A recent report from Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and other members of the House Government Reform committee found that oil company executives “are likely to receive a windfall of up to $211 million” under full repeal. For example, Exxon’s top exec, Lee Raymond, who is retiring with one of the most generous packages in history, would receive a tax break of over $160 million.

President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and the Cabinet stand to gain between $91 million and $344 million.

These are the greed mongers who are leading the lobbying charge. Reportedly it has been only 18 American families with a combined worth of $185.5 billion that is financing the effort to repeal the estate tax. And why not? These 18 families would divvy up nearly $72 billion, with a B, if the tax is repealed.

How much would your family benefit?

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