The estate tax was at the heart of much of the dispute between House Democrats and Republicans on whether to accept President Obama's compromise with Republicans on extending the Bush-era tax cuts.
According to The Hill House liberals, knowing the momentum was against them in terms of stopping the deal entirely, hoped to make a last stand on at least trying to change the estate-tax provision of the agreement. They want to make it less generous to the rich.
But it's hard not to see this as anything other than political symbolism after reading a National Journal piece that explains that the estate tax is pretty much a dead letter, forgive the pun.
Under either the Democrats' or Republican approaches, you're not really talking about a tax that would effect very many families.
From the National Journal:
The fight is over whether it should apply to a minuscule slice of the nation’s richest families or an even more minuscule slice of the nation’s super-rich families. No matter what happens, the estate tax is set to be abolished for more than 99 percent of American families.