Legislation that would eliminate the federal estate tax is up for a vote today (Thursday) in the U.S. Senate. President Bush calls the estate tax a “death tax” and wants it scrapped while Democrats, like Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, say eliminating the estate tax would just make the rich richer.

Harkin says “The estate tax impacts only about three-tenths of one-percent of the wealthiest families in America. Only three out of every one-thousand families ever pay any estate taxes. There’s just 18 families with more than 180-billion dollars in accumulated wealth that are the driving force behind this repeal effort.”

Harkin says if the estate tax is abolished, it would drain the U.S. Treasury of nearly half a trillion dollars over ten years, and none of that would be offset by budget cuts or tax increases elsewhere; that half-trillion would just be added to the deficit and passed on to our children in the form of higher interest rates. He says “the level of irresponsibility here is just breathtaking.”

Harkin says “Repeal of the estate tax will not create any new jobs, it would do nothing to increase productivity or competitiveness, it would do nothing to improve the education of our kids or the general wellbeing of the American people. It’s a pure and simple giveaway, a bonanza for those who have already received the lion’s share of the tax breaks passed over the last five years.” He says if Congress is going to pass new tax breaks, they should be for working Americans who need them, starting with parents raising their kids and trying to save for college tuition.