Grassley Criticized for Colorful Estate Tax Comments

Posted: Dec 05, 2017 7:45 AM

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) made some remarks about the estate tax over the weekend that has him in some hot water with taxpayers and his own colleagues. The senator, in his eagerness to defend the GOP tax reform plan, said that repealing the estate tax would reward Americans who spend their money wisely. Except, he used some colorful language to explain it.

"I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing," Grassley, an Iowa Republican, told the Des Moines Register, "as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it's on booze or women or movies." (Politico)

Democrats and liberal pundits used Grassley’s comments as fodder to prove that the GOP tax plan will unfairly benefit wealthy Americans.

Grassley was pressured to release a fuller statement that better explained his sentiments.

“My point regarding the estate tax, which has been taken out of context, is that the government shouldn’t seize the fruits of someone’s lifetime of labor after they die. The question is one of basic fairness, and working to create a tax code that doesn’t penalize frugality, saving and investment," he said in a statement. "That’s as true for family farmers who have to break up their operations to pay the IRS following the death of a loved one as it is for parents saving for their children’s college education or working families investing and saving for their retirement.” 

While Grassley is trying to clean up his comments, the media has been sharing a "terribly misleading soundbyte" from Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT).

"Morning Joe’s" Joe Scarborough tweeted the following quote and attributed it to Hatch: “I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and billions and trillions of dollars to help people who won’t help themselves – won’t lift a finger – and expect the federal government to do everything.”

If you watch the clip for context, you find Hatch is nowhere near as insensitive as the media was making him out to be.

Still, GOP lawmakers should use caution when promoting their tax plan, for Democrats are eager to pounce on anything they can use to discredit the legislation.