Senate Democrats unveiled a major change to the President’s jobs bill today injecting a proposal that would hit millionaires with a five percent tax surcharge. Majority Leader Harry Reid announced the revised bill will come before the Senate next week with debate and votes expected.
At a press conference, Reid told reporters the tax would pay for $445 billion of the President's $447 billion proposal. Senate Leaders indicated the White House has signed on to the change in how the bill is paid for.
"We're going to propose to pay for this important jobs legislation by asking people who make more than a million dollars a year to pay 5 percent more to fund job creation and ensure this country's economic success," he said.
When asked why Democrats would introduce a millionaire surtax that would be "political dynamite" to Republicans, Reid cited poll numbers showing the majority of Americans support taxing the rich.
"Seventy-five percent of Republicans support this tax. The problem is, none of them are in the Senate. So they're going to have to listen to their constituents," Reid said.
He said he could not guarantee every single Democrat will support the bill but he predicted "overwhelming" support.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) acknowledged it has taken the past month to figure out how to change the bill to win more Democratic support. Some Democrats did not like White House proposals that would have raised taxes on families making $250,000 or more a year and curbed tax breaks to the oil and gas industry.
"We have spent the last several weeks planning how it can win the most votes on the Senate floor as one package. We believe we have found the best answer available. These tough economic times call for sacrifice -- shared sacrifice," Schumer said.
Earlier today on the Senate floor, Republican leader Mitch McConnell previewed the partisan sniping that will ensue next week. McConnell said the millionaire tax was not a serious effort to generate support from the other side of the aisle.
"I understand our Democrat 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," he said.
Adding to the political battle, Republican staff circulated past comments from a number of Senate Democrats who had previously opposed such a tax in debates over financing other pieces of legislation.
Updated 2:16 p.m.