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Pelosi, Blue Dogs Agree on Millionaires Tax to Fund GI Bill

Conservative Democrats and party leaders in the House will propose a millionaires tax to fund a popular proposal to expand education benefits to post-9/11 vets, The Associated Press reports today. The conservative “Blue Dog” members support the concept of a more generous GI Bill, but balked at the $51.8 billion cost, which Democratic leaders wanted to ignore by sticking the proposal to an emergency war spending bill. The Blue Dogs said they would withdraw their support for the GI Bill provision unless it was paid for — a conflict that’s delayed debate on the spending bill until Thursday, at the earliest.

Under the new plan, individuals earning over $500,000 and couples earning over $1 million a year would get slapped with a half-percent tax surcharge. The AP quotes Blue Dog Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark) with the following:

What we’re talking about is a one-half percent income tax surcharge on incomes above $1 million. So someone who earns $2 million a year would pay $5,000. … They’re not going to miss it.

Not that the proposal will get very far. Though the GI Bill enjoys significant bipartisan support in the Senate, there’s no indication that the tax-hike offset would keep enough Republicans on board to pass the upper chamber. On top of that, President George W. Bush has vowed to veto any tax increase that hits his desk.

But paying for the GI Bill will do is this: It will get the Blue Dogs on board, allowing the proposal to pass the House (which requires just a simple majority), and forcing GOP senators to make a tough election year choice: Do they vote for the tax hike or against the veterans benefit? We could know as early as next week.

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