- Sen. Sherrod Brown [D-OH]
- Sen. Al Franken [D-MN]
- Sen. Tom Harkin [D-IA]
- Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse [D-RI]
Sen. Whitehouse’s June 24, 2010 comments on the Senate floor refer to unemployment and the death of billionaire Dan Duncan free of the estate tax as motivation for the bill:
In that context, to say to the people who are still out of work--the ones who lost their jobs back when 700,000 jobs a month were out the window and going overseas; the Bush legacy--to say that we can't help those people any longer, to say that we are cutting off their unemployment insurance, their lifeline, because we are concerned about the debt, I have to ask: Where was the concern about the debt when they were taking a trajectory toward a debt-free America and turning it into a $9 trillion debt? Where was the concern then? Where was the concern when it was tax breaks for billionaires?
We just had our first billion-plus-dollar estate pass under the Bush tax cuts, where the estate tax was eliminated. As a result, a $9 billion estate of a Texas tycoon went to his heirs tax free. How much tax? Zero dollars. Zero dollars. At the prevailing tax rate that has stood for most of this time, you would have paid $4 billion in estate taxes and your heirs would have had to suffer through with only $5 billion to divide amongst themselves. That $4 billion in lost revenue added to our debt and deficit doesn't bother our friends on the other side at all. They couldn't be happier. That is their plan. Those are the Bush tax cuts. America loses $4 billion, and they smile. It is their plan. But when we are talking about people who lost their jobs because of those very policies, because of letting Wall Street run unregulated and having that financial meltdown, and now regular families across this country who got hit by that tsunami of misery are out of work, now they are concerned about the debt. Now they are concerned about the deficit. They were OK with the billion-dollar family passing its estate tax free, but they can't have ordinary working Americans keep that unemployment insurance lifeline.
I think those are backward policies. I think those are upside-down policies, and they hit very hard in my home State.