Tom Daschle buckles under pressure; vote planned for permanent death tax repeal by June.

WASHINGTON – Under pressure from Republicans, and fearing a popular backlash against his antagonistic attitude toward tax relief, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) today announced that a vote on permanent death tax relief will occur before June.

The move comes as a surprise to most, after Daschle said last week that he would "never bring up the permanent tax cut the president is advocating." The Washington Post took the news to heart, saying that when the House passed permanent tax relief last week, proponents "[sent] the bill to a certain death in the Senate."

Daschle, who led the opposition to President Bush\’s tax relief plan in the Senate last spring, faces a difficult battle as he tries to manage an increasingly liberal group of Democrats in the Senate, while trying to maintain a majority in the 2002 midterm elections next November. Twelve Democrats joined virtually all Republican senators in supporting the tax relief plan last May.

Taxpayer advocate Grover Norquist, who heads Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) in Washington, called the measure "promising," and added that "Daschle\’s move underscores the powerful popular pressure that tax cuts bring to bear on even the most stubborn of liberal Democrats."

"Daschle caved to both common sense and popular pressure," said Norquist. "The death tax is the leading cause of the termination of successful small businesses in America. In fact, one out of four small businesses will have to go out of business to pay the tax, unless it is permanently repealed before 2011."

Due to an obscure Senate rule invoked in the bill\’s passage last spring, the entire tax relief package will expire on 1 January 2011, unless it is made permanent before then. If it is not made permanent, marginal tax rates will jump back to 2000 levels, while the once-eliminated death tax and marriage penalty will be reinstated, and previously doubled child credit will return to $500 from $1,000 per child.

"The biggest disappointment is that the intransigent Daschle will not allow a vote on making the entire tax relief plan permanent," continued Norquist. "Daschle is now in between the rock of popular pressure for tax relief and hard place of being in the pockets of the spending lobbies who want to squander taxpayer money. The good news: taxpayers will win."

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