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We need to reform the estate tax in a responsible way long before it expires in 2011. Unfortunately, today the Senate Leadership showed it cares more about playing political games than developing a real solution. Family farmers and business owners deserve better.

I support reform, but today's vote wasn’t about moving toward real reform. It was about political gamesmanship and the November elections.

The Majority's actions today follow a pattern we've seen for several weeks in a row – they bring up issues to score political points in an election year rather than working across the aisle to develop real solutions to real problems. By joining today’s vote with efforts to amend the Constitution to ban flag burning and gay marriage, Republicans are saying that protecting their majority is more important than protecting and providing for the American people.

We can and must have a real discussion on the estate tax, but instead the Republican Leadership pursued its "my way or the highway" approach that leaves family farmers and businesses without the reform they need.

During my time in the Senate, I've worked hard to reform the estate tax for small businesses and family farms. In 1995, I introduced legislation to reform the estate tax. In 1997, I voted for a tax bill that made it easier for family farms and small businesses to transfer their assets to the next generation. And in 2000, I cosponsored legislation to repeal the estate tax and voted for similar legislation later that year.

However, our financial situation has changed dramatically since that time. That means any reform must also be fiscally responsible. Our nation now faces staggering deficits and rising debt. American children born today come into the world already burdened by a “birth tax” of nearly $30,000 – the amount of money each American owes as a share of the national debt. That burden is only going to increase. We need to move forward in a fiscally responsible way because our nation faces pressing unmet needs here at home. We are borrowing from our children’s future to pay for the war in Iraq. We are not adequately funding veterans healthcare. And we are making barebones investments in the areas that we know will help the vast majority of Americans like healthcare, education and security.


Because we need a reform plan that is fiscally responsible, we need a process devoid of politics that would allow us to craft such a bill. I am confident that a compromise is out there, and I will continue working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find a fiscally responsible road to estate tax reform before 2011.