Boehner to Obama: Back off on college savings plans

Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerFeehery: The next Republican wave is coming Rift widens between business groups and House GOP Juan Williams: Pelosi shows her power MORE (R-Ohio) urged President Obama on Tuesday to back away from his plan to roll back tax-free savings accounts for college expenses.

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“It’s another example of his outdated, top-down approach – when our focus ought to be on providing opportunity for all Americans,” BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerFeehery: The next Republican wave is coming Rift widens between business groups and House GOP Juan Williams: Pelosi shows her power MORE told reporters. “And so, for the sake of middle-class families, the president ought to withdraw this tax increase from his budget when he submits it soon.” 

The Speaker also praised Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.) for introducing legislation to expand the benefits of the college savings plans known as 529 accounts, and keep withdrawals from the plans tax-free.

But Boehner stopped short of saying that he expected the House to vote on the measure, which Jenkins introduced with Rep. Ron KindRonald (Ron) James KindDemocrats brace for flood of retirements after Virginia rout Democrats unite to send infrastructure bill to Biden's desk Billionaire tax gains momentum MORE (D-Wis.). House Ways and Means Chairman Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanNo time for the timid: The dual threats of progressives and Trump Juan Williams: Pelosi shows her power Cheney takes shot at Trump: 'I like Republican presidents who win re-election' MORE (R-Wis.) has also welcomd the new bill, but has yet to spell out how or if the committee will act on the measure.

Republicans and outside conservative groups, like Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, were quick to criticize Obama’s 529 plans as a middle-class tax hike after the White House rolled them out shortly before the president’s State of the Union address.

Under Obama’s plan, people using 529 plans would no longer be able to make tax-free withdrawals from the accounts.

But the White House has defended their proposal, saying that the current set-up for 529 accounts disproportionately aid the wealthy and that the idea shouldn’t be looked at outside of Obama’s broader efforts on taxes and access to higher education.

Liberal groups have also noted that bipartisan proposals in the past have also called for streamlining tax incentives for college, to tilt the benefits more toward the middle-class.