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In an astonishing defense of dropping “death taxes” for individual estates worth more than $5.5 million, GOP Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley implied that people not currently affected by that tax are “spending every darn penny ... on booze or women.”
“I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing — as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies,” Grassley told the Des Moines Register in an interview published Saturday. Grassley, who serves on the Finance Committee, made the remark when asked about the Senate tax reform measure which would double the exemption for estates to $11 million for an individual and $22 million for a couple. Heirs would inherit the estates tax-free.
Grassley’s comment triggered a wave of criticism on social media. Many complained that the working class is, in fact, spending “every darn penny” on raising their kids, caring for elderly parents, health care and putting food on the table. One Twitter user complained that the GOP was turning America into a version of “The Hunger Games.”
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The Grassley interview was part of the Des Moines Register’s examination of how the tax reform measure radically reducing estate taxes will affect Iowans. Grassley has long argued that estate taxes, which currently must be paid on individual estates worth more than $5.5 million ($11 million for a married couple), hurt farms and small businesses in the state. Now, the Iowa senator apparently sees the tax change as a way to reward those who have accumulated millions of dollars by “investing.”