A recent New York Times article noted that the Bush Administration has decided to gut estate tax enforcement by having the IRS fire 45% of its estate tax lawyers. The article quotes estate tax lawyer Sharyn Phillips to the effect that the cuts are a “back-door way for the Bush administration to achieve what it cannot get from Congress, which is repeal of the estate tax.”
Pretty unusual stuff, not to enforce a set of laws on the books that raise so much money relative to the IRS staff involved. And, of course, no surprise if estate tax lawyers don't like it, as it moves in the direction of an open invitation not to file estate tax returns even when legally due.
My first thought on reading the news was: Why doesn't Bush just invoke his war power claims to nullify the estate tax? After all, how can he fight terrorism if the U.S. economy is being hurt as much by the tax as he claims?
Indeed, since Grover Norquist, speaking on NPR in 2003, compared the estate tax to the Holocaust, why not have Bush simply proclaim that it IS terrorism?