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Obama's Jobs Bill: Harry Reid Pitches Millionaire's Tax As Another Way To Cover Costs

Reid And Schumer

First Posted: 10/04/11 08:46 PM ET Updated: 12/04/11 05:12 AM ET

WASHINGTON -- In an effort to secure more votes for the president's jobs plan, Senate Democrats are considering different ways of paying for the bill, including placing a greater tax burden on people whose incomes are more than $1 million a year.

Aides on Capitol Hill tell The Huffington Post that the new proposal could be formally unveiled as early as Wednesday. One top aide cautioned that the Democratic leadership was considering several ideas to pay for the American Jobs Act and had yet to settle on a final design. Although the White House did not comment on the new proposal, an administration official confirmed that it was notified of the search for alternative pay-fors prior to the millionaire surtax idea being leaked to the press.

By shifting gears on the pay-for provisions, the Democratic leadership is acknowledging that the current measures designed to pick up the cost of the jobs bill don't have the support of the entire caucus. The Obama administration had called for the congressional super committee, already tasked with finding $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction, to find additional savings to pay for the legislation, which includes a host of tax credits and stimulative spending measures. As guidance, the White House suggested limiting itemized deductions for individuals making more than $200,000 a year, eliminating tax subsidies for certain oil and gas companies, ending tax breaks for corporate jet owners, and treating capital gains earnings as ordinary income.

Oil-state Democrats had balked at that proposal. Others worried that it would have a sharp negative effect on charitable giving.

In a caucus meeting on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) entertained those concerns and offered a concession: He would replace the president's pay-for with one that put the burden on the shoulders of millionaires.

Whether the move will be enough to placate the full caucus is unclear. There are, conceivably, members who will oppose tax hikes even for the well-off. When Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) proposed a new tax bracket for millionaires during the debate over extending the Bush tax cuts in December 2010, the proposal failed to overcome a filibuster. Still, Reid pitched the idea -- should it be chosen -- as the one that would get the party as close to 53 votes in the Senate as possible.

That, of course, doesn't come close to guaranteeing passage. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) could block a vote on the jobs act by holding on to 40 votes within his own party. And that doesn't even take into consideration the obstacles in the House, where the prospects seem utterly remote after Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said on Tuesday that he had no plans to bring the legislation to the floor.

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