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Sen. Chuck Grassley says wealthy invest, others spend on booze or women | TribLIVE.com
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Sen. Chuck Grassley says wealthy invest, others spend on booze or women

The Associated Press
| Monday, December 4, 2017 9:51 a.m
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Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y., listens as he sits next to a stack of IRS Code volumes as the House Ways and Means Committee begins the markup process of the GOP's tax overhaul last month (AP Photo | J. Scott Applewhite)
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Senate Budget Committee members Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., left, and Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., talk before the start of a Senate Budget Committee hearing to consider fiscal year 2018 reconciliation legislation on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017. The committee advanced a sweeping tax package to the full Senate, handing GOP leaders a victory as they try to pass the nation's first tax overhaul in 31 years. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
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Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., makes his way past protesters as they shout their disapproval of the Republican tax bill outside the Senate Budget Committee hearing room on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., arrives for votes on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday evening, Nov. 27, 2017. President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans are scrambling to change a Republican tax bill in an effort to win over holdout GOP senators and pass a tax package by the end of the year. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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Senate Budget Committee members Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., left, and Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., talk during a Senate Budget Committee hearing to consider fiscal year 2018 reconciliation legislation on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017. The Senate Budget Committee advanced a sweeping tax package to the full Senate, handing GOP leaders a victory as they try to pass the nation's first tax overhaul in 31 years. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
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Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., joins protesters outside the Capitol as Republicans in the Senate work to pass their sweeping tax bill, a blend of generous tax cuts for businesses and more modest tax cuts for families and individuals, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017. It would mark the first time in 31 years that Congress has overhauled the tax code, making it the biggest legislative achievement of President Donald Trump's first year in office. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., arrives for a meeting with House Republicans and President Donald Trump, Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Trump urged House Republicans Thursday to approve a near $1.5 trillion tax overhaul as the party prepared to drive the measure through the House. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., flanked by, Small Business Administration Administrator Linda McMahon, left, and Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., speaks to a group of small business owners as Republicans work to pass their sweeping tax bill, a blend of generous tax cuts for businesses and more modest tax cuts for families and individuals, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017. It would mark the first time in 31 years that Congress has overhauled the tax code, making it the biggest legislative achievement of President Donald Trump's first year in office. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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U.S. Capitol Police officers remove a protester from the Senate Budget Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017. The Senate Budget Committee has advanced a sweeping tax package to the full Senate, handing GOP leaders a victory as they try to pass the nation's first tax overhaul in 31 years. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
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From left, Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., speak informally on tax reform and the elections with reporters in the Senate Press Gallery at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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U.S. Capitol Police officers make arrests as protesters shout their disapproval of the Republican tax bill outside the Senate Budget Committee hearing room as GOP leaders try to persuade reluctant senators to support a sweeping tax package, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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Senate Budget Committee chairman Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., right, and ranking member Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., talk during a Senate Budget Committee hearing to consider fiscal year 2018 reconciliation legislation on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017. The Senate Budget Committee advanced a sweeping tax package to the full Senate, handing GOP leaders a victory as they try to pass the nation's first tax overhaul in 31 years. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
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Rep. John Larson, D-Conn., joined by Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., right, makes a point as the House Ways and Means Committee continues its debate over the Republican tax reform package, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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AP Photo
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Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, left, grabs Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, right, as they and other lawmakers rush to the chamber to vote on amendments as the Republican leadership work to craft their sweeping tax bill, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017.
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Protesters shout their disapproval of the Republican tax bill outside the Senate Budget Committee hearing room on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON — A top Republican senator is defending GOP efforts to reduce the hit to the wealthy from the federal estate tax because it helps those who invest rather than people who spend their money on “booze or women or movies.”

Seven-term Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee, made the comments 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.

Under current law, when someone dies the estate owes taxes on the value of assets transferred to heirs above $5.5 million for individuals, $11 million for couples. The Senate bill doubles those limits but does not repeal the tax. The House bill initially doubles the limits and then repeals the entire tax after 2023.

House and Senate GOP negotiators are working out the differences between the two bills, with the goal of completing legislation that Congress can send to President Donald Trump before Christmas.

Farm-state lawmakers and other Republicans have long argued that the estate tax is a harsh hit on small businesses and family farms. The Tax Policy Center has estimated that only 80 small business and small farm estates nationwide will face any estate tax in 2017.

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