Gay Marriage Ban Loses - Estate Tax Repeal Next?
"I just hope we get to the defense authorization bill as soon as possible."
--John McCain, indicating how important he thinks the gay marriage ban is.
You’ll recall that Bill Frist set up this week and next as the American Taliban’s “Christmas In June” whereby instead of dealing with real issues like health care, Iraq oversight, Iran, the deficit, and the like, Frist detoured the Senate into debates on a constitutional ban on gay marriage, flag burning, and permanently repealing the Paris Hilton tax. Amidst signs that the GOP is now worried about dancing to the American Taliban’s tune, the Senate just now as expected voted down the gay marriage ban, with all Democrats except Robert Byrd and Nebraska’s Ben Nelson voting against the measure. John McCain in fact wanted to dispose of this issue as quickly as possible to move on to more pressing issues. McCain was one of several GOP senators who voted against Frist and the American Taliban today to prevent the measure from coming to a vote. The others were Lincoln Chafee, Susan Collins, Judd Gregg, and Olympia Snowe. Arlen Specter, and John Sununu. 60 votes were needed for cloture and to move the amendment to a full vote. Republicans were expecting 52 votes today to cut off debate and move to a vote, but got only 49, and Chuck Hagel, Jay Rockefeller, and Chris Dodd did not vote.
Now that Frist got his vote on gay marriage, he plans to move on to a vote to permanently repeal the estate tax tomorrow, but some in his own caucus don’t want that vote either, and are working with conservative Democrats on alternatives that are almost as bad for the economy as a permanent repeal. Frist is sticking with his demand for a full repeal, and is likely to run into a Democratic filibuster tomorrow as a result. He'll get a chance to show how supportive the GOP is of Paris Hilton at a time when his party wants voters to take them seriously as fiscal conservatives and proponents of tax fairness. The GOP’s Chuck Grassley thinks they are only 4 votes away from a full repeat of the tax, and are willing to see Frist try for it, even though a full repeal blows another $70 billion annual hole in the budget within the next decade. I guess we’ll just have to make that up with an upper income bracket marginal rate increase and the closure of tax breaks for the wealthy, or see if a full repeal actually results in more estates being taxed for capital gains than are now currently taxed under the estate tax.