Dealbreaker? House Dems to push tax-bill amendments raising estate tax

Outraged by the agreement to exempt individual estates worth as much as $5 million from taxation, senior Democrats said they would press to lower the threshold to $3.5 million. They also want to impose a stiffer tax on larger estates, by setting the rate at 45 percent rather than the 35 percent demanded by Republicans and agreed to by Obama…

House leaders were also considering a proposal by Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) to convert the payroll tax holiday into a one-time refund check that would be issued to every American worker early next year. Sherman said the alternative was designed not only to get cash more quickly into the hands of consumers, but also to protect Social Security. Some Democrats fear that Republicans would try to extend the one-year payroll tax holiday, permanently reducing the flow of funds to Social Security at a time when the GOP and deficit hawks in both parties are urging lawmakers to cut benefits for future retirees.

If any amendments were adopted in the House, the tax package would have to go back to the Senate for further action. But Sherman said House leaders made clear that they are “looking for changes that cause the bill not be dead on arrival in the Senate” – an outcome that would cause tax rates to rise next month for virtually every American worker.