GOP Rep Calls on Obama to Back College Savings Plan in Weekly Address

In the weekly GOP Address, Rep. Jim Renacci (R-OH) lobbied President Barack Obama to back a savings plan passed by the House earlier this week with bipartisan support.

Transcript as follows:

Good morning, I’m Jim Renacci, and I have the honor of representing the good people of Ohio’s 16th Congressional District.

This week, the House of Representatives passed a good, bipartisan bill that could help many middle-class families. I’d like to take a moment to tell you about it.

First, a story. Like many of you, I was the first in my family to go to college. Ours was a working class union family so I had to pay my own way through school. To do that, I worked any number of jobs: truck driver, mechanic, a road crew, you name it.

As an accountant, I’ve seen countless parents struggle with putting away money for their kids’ tuition. You know how it is: you want to make sure they have it better than you do. But at a time when the cost of just about everything is going up and incomes are barely moving, that job’s only gotten harder.

So last month, when President Obama proposed taxing 529 plans, people were understandably outraged.

Why would we make saving for college even harder? We talk all the time about rewarding people who work hard and play by the rules – well, that’s what 529 plans are. They empower families to set up accounts for their children – right from when they’re born – and then down the line they can use that money – tax-free – on books, fees, tuition, and room-and-board.

All told, there are nearly 12 million of these accounts open in all 50 states. That’s up from 1 million accounts in 2001. Why would we stop that growth? So the government can take even more of the money we’ve worked so hard to put away?

Thankfully, after a public outcry, the president was forced to drop the idea.

But we can do more. With all the challenges middle-class families are facing right now, we need to make it easier – not harder – to save.

That’s why the House acted this week to expand and modernize 529 plans.

Our plan will do a few simple things.

First, to adapt to the times, we clarify that computers are qualified expenses under 529 accounts.

Second, we remove unnecessary paperwork burdens for the administrators of these plans.

And third, we allow families to re-deposit refunds from colleges without taxes or penalties. This might be useful if something happens and a student has to withdraw early for an illness. It’s just good peace of mind to have.

I’m pleased to report that the bill passed with more than 400 votes. Now we just need President Obama to help us get this done.

Together, let’s make sure that 529 plans will be there for middle-class families for years to come.

Because we all know that a good education leads to greater opportunity and a stronger economy. So let’s take this step to make college more affordable and easier to plan.

Thank you for giving me a few minutes of your time

Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor


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