Big benefits for those who die
Big benefits for those who die
When President Bush took office, the wealthy could leave only $675,000 to heirs free of federal tax, while the rest was taxed at 55%.

His tax cuts gradually increased the amount exempt from estate taxes, while lowering the rate until 2011.

After a bitter battle, President Obama and the Republican-led House struck a deal in the waning days of 2010 to exempt $5 million from estate taxes and set the rate at 35% for two years.

The result? An estate worth $25 million would have been subject to about $13.2 million in federal taxes had Bush not changed the law. Now, it will fork over less than $7 million, according to Roberton Williams, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center.

By Tami Luhby @CNNMoney - Last updated February 15 2012: 9:58 AM ET
Government assistance expands

More than a third of Americans lived in households receiving government assistance in mid-2010.

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