Senate Democrats are weighing a 5 percent surtax on the nation’s highest earners as a means of paying for President Obama’s $447 billion jobs package.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid outlined plans for the surcharge in a meeting with rank and file Democrats on Tuesday, Politico reported.
To pay for his package of tax breaks, unemployment benefits and new spending on public works projects, Obama has proposed higher taxes on family incomes over $250,000 and on the oil and gas industry.
That strategy is opposed by Republicans, and also faces considerable opposition from Democrats in the Senate. Reid’s plan would seek to quell Democrats’ reluctance to back the bill by jettisoning that approach and replacing it with the 5 percent tax on millionaires.
White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer said the president was open to Reid’s changes.
“We offered a balanced way to pay for the American Jobs Act, but if Congress has a better idea that ensures that everyone pays their fair share, we’re open to it,” he said.
And Reid told reporters that Obama is “not locked into anything he put into that bill as it relates to pay-fors.”
Back in 2009, a bill in the House called for a 5.4 percent surtax on individuals who make $500,000 and couples who earn at least $1 million in order to fund Obama’s health reform package, but Senate Democrats balked at approving the bill.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday pushed for a quick Senate vote on Obama’s bill. But the request was blocked by Reid, who called it a “political stunt.” He predicted, however, that by the time the jobs bill does come to the Senate floor, almost all Democrats would be behind it.
But at the moment, Politico observed, “the outlook for a millionaires surtax is cloudy at best.”
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