As reported by the New York Times in Wage Bill Dies; Senate Backs Pension Shift, efforts to repeal the estate tax were blocked in the Senate for the third time this year. Here is an excerpt from the linked-to story:
WASHINGTON, Aug. 3 — Senate Democrats on Thursday blocked legislation tying the first minimum wage increase in almost a decade to a decrease in the federal estate tax, denying Republicans a legislative victory as lawmakers head into a crucial month of campaigning before the November elections.
Republican backers of the measure, dubbed the trifecta for its three chief elements, fell 4 votes short of the 60 needed to cut off debate. Democrats had argued that it was a bad bargain to exchange a $2.10 wage increase for struggling workers for a costly tax cut for the country’s wealthiest families.
“This trifecta is a high-stakes gamble with America’s future,” said Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat. “This is the worst special-interest bill I have seen in my time in Congress.”
Scrambling to complete its business and join the House in an August recess, the Senate also approved and sent to the president a major overhaul of pension law as Republicans sought to record some last-minute accomplishments.
But the failure of the bill linking the wage increase and the tax cut was a significant defeat for Senator Bill Frist, the majority leader entering his last months in the post. Mr. Frist had hoped to steer the measure through the Senate, partly with the help of an accompanying series of tax incentives and federal aid to woo lawmakers.
Mr. Frist and his allies in business viewed the wage increase, stretched over three years, as an acceptable trade-off for a permanent reduction in the estate tax and $38 billion in tax breaks and federal aid that constituted the third part of the measure. But they could not overcome intense opposition from Democrats and organized labor.
The You and Yours Blawg has also posted on this latest vote (see Estate Tax Repeal Vote Down Again (3rd time the charm?)).
Undeterred by failing to get its way via the democratic process, the Bush administration has simply fired almost half of all of the IRS’s estate tax auditors in what has been dubbed the "back door" approach to estate tax repeal (see IRS Cans Elite Auditors, Undermining Estate Tax).