Thursday, September 15, 2005

Iowa Senator Shows Some Smarts

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. Grassley has been portrayed as a country bumpkin by Iowa news media, including yours truly in a previous life. Yesterday, Grassley showed he's not the "dumb farmer" others accuse him of being.

The Des Moines Register reports:

It would appear "unseemly" for Congress to push through a permanent repeal of the estate tax while also trying to come up with money for victims of the hurricane disaster in the Gulf, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley of Iowa said today.

Until recently, the Senate had been on track to consider a permanent repeal of the estate tax or "death tax." The tax generally is levied on the estates of those who die leaving behind $1 million or more in assets, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

The tax gradually is being phased out, under tax cut packages approved by Congress and would be gone by 2010. But that would last just a year and the tax would be reinstated in 2011.

The repeal has been championed by groups such as the American Farm Bureau Federation but opposed by some Democrats who view it as a giveaway for the wealthy.

Grassley said in a conference call with Iowa reporters that he doubts now the tax repeal will be considered in 2005.

"It's a little unseemly to be talking about doing away with or enhancing the estate tax at a time when people are suffering," said Grassley, a Republican who is in charge of the committee that writes U.S. tax policy.

Grassley's statements are a surprise because Grover Norquist used Hurricane Katrina to argue that the Senate should vote to repeal (PDF) the estate tax, arguing it "is exactly what the residents of the Gulf Region need at this time to start the rebuilding process for their neighborhoods and more importantly for their lives."

Fortunately, some Republican senators came to their senses.

The Register article caught our eye because of the byline. We went to college with Jane Norman, took some classes with her, and wrote for the campus newspaper and a weekly campus TV news program with her. Alas, she's covering Washington and we're writing a blog.