WASHINGTON — Senate Democratic leaders are proposing a 5 percent surtax on those earning $1 million a year as a new way to pay for President Barack Obama's jobs plan, turning to an issue with populist appeal as they line up support for a vote, possibly next week.
The shift is an acknowledgment that the president does not have support among his Democratic allies for taxing those earning less than $1 million. Obama's proposal had relied on tax increases for households earning more than $200,000, or $250,000 for couples.
"We're going to move to have the richest of the rich pay a little bit more," Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., the majority leader, said Wednesday. A vote is expected "within the next few days," Reid said.
Several conservative senators or those up for re-election next year have opposed any new taxes. Others argue that the upper-income tax hikes Obama proposed would snare small business owners.
Polls this fall have repeatedly shown that Americans overwhelmingly support higher taxes on millionaires who make up less than 1 percent of taxpayers, fewer than 500,000 households.
Republicans in the Senate are expected to launch a filibuster to block the bill. They have insisted on no new taxes.
The surtax would hit all forms of income, including capital gains. It would fully cover the $447 billion cost of Obama's jobs proposal.