Party on, Paris — the House just voted to repeal the estate tax, a.k.a. the death tax, a.k.a. the “Paris Hilton really deserves all that money” tax — for good, beginning in 2010. The tax presently affects only two percent of Americans, and its repeal will decrease government revenues by $290 billion over the subsequent decade.

Doug at Masson’s Blog writes, “Nobody has ever given me a good explanation why, if we are committed to reducing taxes, we should start with the estate tax rather than reducing payroll taxes or income taxes. Even if an heir has a moral claim on the fruits of daddy’s labor, certainly it cannot be a greater moral claim than an individual has on the fruits of his own labor.”

KAV at Living in the Real World takes a stab at an answer: the government does “not have a divine right to grab cash from whatever source they can find to pay for their spending,” and he argues that “taking money in inheritance tax is not right and that the government needs to find better ways of finding the cash it needs.”

Exactly. Like the Hawley-Smoot tariff.

Tom Delay, who is embroiled in his own sort of cash-grabbing kerfluffle, has a two-pronged strategy for salvaging his political career, writes P.M. Carpenter. “One, insist that there exists a ‘“mammoth operation” funded by Democratic supporters … designed to destroy him as a symbol of the Republican majority.” And two, point out that everybody else in Congress does it — that is, make a hobby of graft.” He says the first bit is “laughable,” because Democrats aren’t organized enough, and points out that even Newt Gingrich ridiculed the idea. The second part, he says, has some merit. But not much:

It’s true, Tom, most every politician does make a hobby of graft. Still, there is the question of proportion, the question of control. For example, every office worker steals paper clips. It may be wrong, it may be petty, it may even legally qualify as theft — but Tom, they’re paper clips. You, on the other hand, are the hireling who doesn’t stop with paper clips or post-it notes. You’re the type who hauls home a copier, a fax machine, filing cabinets — you know, pretty much the store. It may all be stealing, Tom, but like I said, it’s a question of control, which you happen to be out of.

Finally, Diggers Ream takes a look at the Philippines, which U.S. Embassy official Joseph Mussomeli says could become “the next Afghanistan” — a haven for al Qaeda members and other terrorists. The government is beginning negotiations with a terrorist group called the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, or MILF. According to AFP, “Manila officials concede militant factions within the 12,000-member MILF are giving sanctuary and even training facilities to the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), the alleged Southeast Asian proxy of the Al-Qaeda militant Islamic network, as well as the Mindanao-based Abu Sayyaf group (ASG).”

Writes Digger: “They’re going to negotiate to halt attacks against a terrorist group that is housing an increasing population of al Qaeda and Islamic radical groups. Do they think because they stop attacks that the group is actually going to be thankful and disband, stop the fight and stop allowing further terrorists into the country? This is such an asinine thought that I can’t believe a government would contemplate it.”

We suppose they have their reasons — like protecting Imelda Marcos’ shoe collection.

Brian Montopoli

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Brian Montopoli is a writer at CJR Daily.