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Dec 14, 2010 5:02 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Bishop Appears To Now Favor Tax Cut Deal

Dec 14, 2010 5:02 PM

Fresh off a close win in the most heated race of his political career, U.S. Representative Tim Bishop found himself this week weighing a deal between the White House and Republicans in Congress that seeks to extend tax cuts and unemployment benefits to millions of Americans, while adding billions to the federal deficit.

Mr. Bishop, a Southampton resident, said he was one of the Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives who issued a symbolic rejection of the deal in a non-binding vote last Thursday, December 9, but offered varied opinions on its many provisions during an interview this week. On Tuesday, Mr. Bishop’s spokesman, Oliver Longwell, said the congressman was leaning toward supporting the package in the end.

“We essentially took the position last Wednesday or Thursday that we did not want the bill to come to the floor in its current form, that we wanted to see it improved,” Mr. Bishop said of last week’s rejection.

The House is expected to consider the deal, which will likely come in the form of a single bill called the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010, sometime before it adjourns on Friday, he said. The U.S. Senate is also likely to vote on the package this week; a motion to end the debate over the bill passed by a wide margin on Monday, according to Mr. Longwell.

The deal unveiled by President Barack Obama last week would extend tax cuts for families of all income levels passed under President George W. Bush in 2001 and 2003, which were set to expire at the end of this year, while pinning on a smattering of new measures. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that the deal would add $917 billion to the national debt over the next two years.

Last week, Mr. Bishop joined the many hands now vying to shape the package by proposing a measure that would grant a $250 cost-of-living adjustment to all seniors who receive Social Security, which he said would help stimulate the economy and “could represent the 111th Congress’s final opportunity to extend necessary assistance to seniors.” On Monday, he said Democratic leaders were considering the idea, which he said would add $14 billion to the cost of the bill.

“It’s being entertained, but they are making no commitments whatsoever at this point,” Mr. Bishop said. “The whole situation with the bill is very fluid.”

The package that is on the table, according to Mr. Bishop, contains some worthwhile provisions, including the continuation of tax cuts for families earning less than $250,000 per year, which would otherwise expire at the end of 2010, and the 13-month extension of unemployment benefits for two million Americans—each of which he described, in turn, as an “absolute must.” Mr. Bishop also said he supports a provision that would allow small businesses to write off investments, and another that shrinks the Social Security payroll tax from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent for one year.

But the congressman said he has reservations about two aspects of the deal being pushed by Republicans, one of which would extend tax cuts for families earning more than $250,000 per year, and another that would lower the estate tax; Mr. Bishop described the estate tax provision as the one “most difficult for Democrats to accept, and, frankly, me as well.”

The estate tax, which is imposed after someone dies and transfers wealth to his or her inheritors, will be set at 35 percent for estates worth more than $5 million under the proposed deal. While there was no estate tax in the United States in 2010, the 2009 rate was 45 percent of estates totaling more than $3.5 million, and it was set to rise to 55 percent for estates worth more than $1 million in 2011.

Mr. Bishop said he opposes the lower estate tax rate because it will cost $28 billion over two years while benefiting only the nation’s wealthiest 6,600 families—99.7 percent of estates in the country are exempt from the tax because they fall below the taxable threshold, he said. “We should not be tailoring tax policy to deal with 6,600 families,” Mr. Bishop said.

Changes to the estate tax rate, though, would also impact farm families, including those on the East End who are “cash poor but land rich,” according to Mr. Bishop. He said he has been pushing legislation for eight years, with the help of the Peconic Land Trust and the Long Island Farm Bureau, that would exempt working farms from the estate tax. “That’s a separate issue right now than what’s before Congress,” he said.

Mr. Bishop also said he was wary about the $250,000 income mark that Congress has been using to separate middle-class families from the ranks of the wealthy—especially for an area like Long Island, where incomes are inflated by a high cost of living. The congressman said he would have entertained a proposal by U.S. Senator Charles Schumer of New York to extend the tax cuts for everyone except millionaires and billionaires, although that measure is moot at this point.

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after a close election he has finally decided to act the interest of his district. let's see if he can keep it up.
By uncleronk (136), southold on Dec 16, 10 8:15 AM
Bishop ALWAYS favored tax cuts for the middle class. It was those who make million of dollars he wanted to RETURN to the pre-bush era tax levels.
By SHNative (554), Southampton on Dec 16, 10 8:48 AM
Bishop ALWAYS does what he is told. Its almost assured he will vote in line with Pelosi
By razza5350 (1911), East Hampton on Dec 16, 10 11:35 AM
Can someone tell me how much taxes a person making 250,000 pays under each tax plan?
By Mets fan (1501), Southampton on Dec 16, 10 12:05 PM
By Mets fan (1501), Southampton on Dec 16, 10 6:20 PM
< ------Congress down to 13% while I escape criticism.Got them all fooled I am not a socialist anymore lol tooooo easy. Get in the cup!
By They call me (2826), southampton on Dec 16, 10 12:44 PM
Political expediency over intelligent thought.

Let's push this problem off until after the next presidential election.

Randy would have voted for this crap, too, so what the difference?
By Noah Way (450), Southampton on Dec 16, 10 1:34 PM
"Bishop Appears To Now Favor Tax Cut Deal"

Editor Appears To Boldly Split Infinitives
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Dec 23, 10 10:20 AM
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