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Reid wants millionaire surtax

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Democrats intend to jettison provisions that President Barack Obama recommended to pay for his jobs bill and substitute a tax surcharge on millionaires, officials said Tuesday, hoping to unify the party for a protracted political struggle with Republicans.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., outlined plans for a 5 percent surcharge in a closed-door meeting with the rank and file, according to participants in the session, as Obama traveled to Texas to deliver his most caustic challenge yet to House Republicans who have not allowed a vote on the legislation unveiled nearly a month ago.

“What’s the problem? Do they not have the time? They just had a week off. Is it inconvenient?” he said in Mesquite, Texas, singling out House Majority Leader Eric Cantor for special criticism.

There was no indication Cantor, R-Va., or the House Republicans would agree.

But after three weeks of presidential demands for Congress to pass his jobs bill without delay, White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer said Obama 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,” Pfeiffer said.

On a day rich in political maneuvering, Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell announced he was ready for an immediate vote on the bill, even though he opposes it. Reading aloud on the Senate floor from a copy of Obama’s speech, he said, “I do think the president makes an important point that he is entitled to a vote.”

The request was blocked by Reid, who called it a “political stunt” and said he would make sure the bill comes to the floor this month. Aboard Air Force One, White House press secretary Jay Carney accused Republicans of gamesmanship.

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