GOP senator says estate tax comments misinterpreted

WASHINGTON (AP) — A top Republican senator said Monday his comments were misinterpreted when he defended GOP efforts to scale back the federal estate taxes because it helps those who invest rather than people who spend their money on “booze or women or movies.”

“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,” Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley said in a statement. “The question is one of basic fairness, and working to create a tax code that doesn’t penalize frugality, saving and investment.”

The seven-term senator, a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee, made the comments about the estate tax late last week in an interview with the Des Moines Register. It has attracted attention since.

Grassley told the newspaper, “I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies.”

The estate tax affects a very small and very wealthy number of Americans, with only the estates of about 2 out of every 1,000 Americans who die facing the tax.

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