Clinton's Veto Pen Hovers Over 'Death Tax' Repeal

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:26 PM EDT

( - He's already vetoed the bill to eliminate the marriage tax penalty. Now, President Clinton is poised to strike down another Republican-sponsored tax cut - repeal of the so-called "death tax." Also known as the estate tax, it affects millions of family farms and small businesses that are inherited by children when their parents die.

\li720\fi-720Congress sent Clinton the bill Thursday. It calls for phasing out the death tax over
10 years. It passed Congress in July with sizable Democratic support in both the House
and the Senate, and by margins that would be sufficient to override Clinton's veto.

Thursday, House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX) issued a statement, promising that "if the President snubs hard working Americans and vetoes this bill, we will vote to override his veto."

Rep. J.C. Watts, (R-OK), Chairman of the House Republican Conference, said "eliminating the death tax will put an end to folks being visited by the undertaker and the IRS agent on the same day."

"Death and taxes may be inevitable," Watts said in a statement, "but they shouldn't be related."

During his Saturday, August 5th radio address, Clinton defended his opposition to the Republican tax-cutting strategy. According to Clinton, "I asked the Republican leadership, do you really stand behind this $2 trillion tax cut strategy? If so, how do you justify leaving nothing for Social Security or Medicare, nothing for a new Medicare prescription drug benefit or education? And how will we ever make America debt free?"

Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert Thursday fired off a letter to Clinton, urging him to sign the estate tax repeal into law and arguing that the GOP had in fact reserved $3 trillion of budget surpluses for Social Security, Medicare and a new, voluntary prescription drug benefit for senior citizens.

"The American people are sick and tired of finger pointing and being told half-truths," Hastert wrote in his letter to Clinton. "Let's make sure we have agreement on the facts before we engage in the annual end of the year debate on spending, tax relief and a whole host of other issues."

The White House had no reaction to Hastert's letter. The House Speaker will be part of the Congressional delegation accompanying Clinton to Colombia next week. Clinton recently released $1.3 billion to help Colombia fight its war on drugs.