Senate Democrats Propose Surtax On Millionaires

Senate Democrats are making a change to President Obama's jobs bill. They want to pay for it by putting a five percent surtax on earnings over $1 million. Congressional Republicans were quick to dismiss the surtax idea.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

To Capitol Hill now, where Senate Democrats are making a change to President Obama's jobs bill. They want to pay for it by putting a five percent tax on earnings over a million dollars. NPR's Tamara Keith reports.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: President Obama had proposed paying for his jobs bill by raising an assortment of taxes, targeting oil companies, corporate jet owners and families earning more than $250,000 a year. But even members of his own party had expressed concerns about those tax changes. So Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has swapped in a millionaire surtax, something he says has populist support.

SENATOR HARRY REID: Independents, Democrats and Republicans and even the Tea Party agree it's time for millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share of taxes.

KEITH: Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor the changes are purely political.

SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL: Our Democratic friends want to jettison entire parts of the bill altogether, not to make it more effective at growing jobs, not to grow bipartisan support. No, they want to overhaul the bill to sharpen its political edge.

KEITH: He and other Republicans argue with a weak economy, this is not a time to raise taxes. Reid says he'll bring the bill up on the floor next week, where it faces long odds. And on the house side, Majority Leader Eric Cantor says the jobs bill is dead. Tamara Keith, NPR News, the Capitol.

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