Democrats' Overhaul Won't Discard Death Tax; Policy about 'Strengthening the Middle Class,' Pelosi Says

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A reprieve from the so-called federal death tax isn't in the massive tax policy overhaul House Democrats will roll out in coming weeks, a top Ways and Means Committee aide said.

The death tax "hasn't been part of the discussions," the aide said of the closely guarded "mother" of all tax reform bills being written by committee Chairman Rep. Charles B. Rangel, New York Democrat.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, said her party has a plan that would only hit the super rich with the inheritance tax. But she didn't say when it would be introduced and she lamented the lost revenue, about $850 billion over the next 20 years.

"It's costly. I said everything we do is going to be paid for, one way or another," Mrs. Pelosi said after House Democrats last week rejected a Republican bid to eliminate the death tax. "Whatever we take up on our taxation [policy] will be about simplification. It will be about fairness. It will be about strengthening the middle class."

Republicans, eager to make taxes a defining issue in the next election, say government should not raise taxes on some to reduce taxes on others.

"The death tax is yet another issue that illustrates the difference between Republicans and Democrats," said House Minority Leader John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican. "We believe it is fundamentally un-American to tax our citizens upon their death, while Democrats appear to believe this form of double taxation is a fundamental right of the federal government. …