In Senate works on estate tax deal to grease the skids for a jobs bill (The Hill, 2/9/10), Jay Heflin explains how the estate tax is being used as a means to an end:
Senate leaders are working on an estate tax deal to make it easier to move a bipartisan jobs bill.
The deal discussed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) involves moving an estate tax bill through the Senate that would prevent a huge hike in the tax from taking effect in 2011, staffers and lobbyists say.
For Reid, it could provide crucial Republican votes for the jobs bill in a Senate where Democrats now have only 59 votes. Republicans would get a vote on legislation to stop the estate tax from returning to a historically high level.
The exact nature of the deal is still subject to negotiations, and the final details of a jobs bill are unclear. But the basic deal would involve Republicans providing enough votes on the jobs bill to give it the 60 votes necessary to clear procedural hurdles in exchange for a vote on the estate tax. . . .
Lobbyists say the Reid-McConnell talks have been fruitful, but historic snows in Washington have delayed a final decision on when an estate tax fix might move.
The rest of Heflin's article explains some of the alternatives regarding the federal estate tax.
See also Will the forthcoming Senate jobs bill also fix the federal estate tax? (2/4/10)