Commuter tax benefit moving along as part of tax cuts extension bill
Form 1099 repeal fails yet again

Estate tax: The House Democrats' line in the sand?

We Texans are a mouthy bunch. Many of our pronouncements have been enshrined in quotation collections. Among my favorites are Davy Crockett's "You may all go to hell and I will go to Texas" and "How 'bout them Cowboys?!" from former Dallas NFL coach Jimmy Johnson.

There's no exact quote, but everyone's well aware that drawing a line in the sand means you're prepared to take no more and do whatever it takes to defend your position. Although it's likely apocryphal, the definitive line in the sand demonstration is said to have come from Col. William Barrett Travis in March 1836 when he readied his troops in the Alamo for their last battle.

That phrase has been used a lot of late in connection with the upcoming fight in the House of Representatives over the tax cuts deal Obama reached with Congressional Republicans.

Still smarting after midterm elections mean the loss of control of the House next session, lame duck Democratic Representatives are in no mood to quietly accept what they see as their party leader's deal with the devil. They told the prez so via a recent caucus vote.

And as they wait for the Senate to finish up its rubber stamping of the deal, House Democrats are working out what changes they want in the tax cuts proposal.

Their line in the legislative sand looks to be the estate tax.

A group of 28 moderate House Democrats , led by Pennsylvania's Allyson Y. Schwartz, last week sent a letter to the White House arguing for the estate tax in 2011 and beyond to be set at the levels already approved by the House: a 45 percent tax levied on estates worth at least $3.5 million.

Of course, some of those letter signers lost in November so they have nothing left to lose politically.

When push comes to shove, with 2010 winding down and every taxpayer facing possible income tax rate hikes next year, not to mention out of work folks continuing to go without unemployment benefits, will enough disgruntled Democrats hold firm for the estate tax changes.

I doubt it. Even if they could get the House to approve it, the altered bill then would have to go back to the Senate for re-approval. That's not likely, as Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) helped craft the estate tax section in the Senate bill.

But watching this group of House Democrats make their last majority party stand on Capitol Hill will be interesting.

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