American Farm Bureau president Bob Stallman says AFBF applauds President Obama and congressional leaders for reaching an agreement on a framework for extending tax breaks for families at all income levels for two years. According to Stallman, farmers and ranchers are pleased the accord includes estate tax relief that establishes a $5 million estate tax exemption and a maximum rate of 35%. Stallman says that for America's farm and ranch families, passage of estate tax relief is the single most important tax issue left unresolved by Congress.
During a Tuesday news conference President Obama said he had little choice because he has been unable to persuade Senate Republicans to maintain middle-class tax cuts without also extending the top-tier tax rates for another two years even though a majority of Americans agree tax cuts on high incomes should end. The President said a long political fight that carried over into next year might have been good politics, but it would be a bad deal for the economy.
Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, responded to the tax agreement by saying the current leadership is starting to face the reality of last month's elections. Americans want Washington to stop overspending and overtaxing. Grassley says that contrary to what a lot of Democratic leaders have said raising taxes is not the magical cure that will shrink the deficit.
Across the aisle, Senator Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said simply, "I'm not talking." Senator Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said he was prepared to support the plan, but Senator Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, was more pointed in his comments. Harkin says he remains opposed to the plan in its current form, citing the extension of tax cuts for higher earners and the extension of unemployment insurance for only 13 months.