“I am concerned that repeal of the estate tax would provide massive benefits solely to the wealthiest and highest-income taxpayers in the country. A Treasury Department study found that almost no estate tax has been paid by lower- and middle-income taxpayers. But taxes have been paid on the estates of people who were in the highest 20% of the income distribution at the time of their death. It found that 91% of all estate taxes are paid by the estates of people whose annual income exceeded $190,000 around the time of their death. …
“We have no idea what our financial or economic situation will be ten years from now. … We may want to have the flexibility to provide significant tax relief for lower- and middle-income taxpayers. Other unforeseen issues may arise. The point is that we must think beyond the horizon. Making the repeal of the estate tax permanent fails to take these new circumstances into account.
“We will need resources to deal with … responsible tax reform that benefit lower- and middle-income taxpayers.”
—Senate floor statement opposing HR 8, a bill to permanently eliminate the death tax, June 11, 2002.
McCain the socialist in video (here).