President Clinton, sparring with Republican rival Bob Dole on taxes, proposed new incentives Tuesday to help students pay for two years of study after high school.
The president's proposal builds on his earlier idea of a $10,000-a-year tax deduction for college tuition and job training. That proposal has languished in Congress. The president's expanded offer - dubbed "America's HOPE Scholarships" - is for a $1,500 tax credit for two years of college, or $750 for part-time enrollment.For low-income families in particular, the $1,500 and $750 tax credits would be more helpful than the $10,000 deduction because they would be eligible for the tuition relief even if they paid no taxes. Families would have the option of choosing either program.
To be eligible for the tax credit after the first year, a student would have to maintain a "B" average and stay off drugs.
The White House estimates the cost of the tax-credit program at $8 billion over six years - in addition to the $35 billion already in Clinton's budget for the tax-deduction proposal.
To offset the cost of the tax credit, Clinton would reinstate a lapsed $6 departure fee for international air travelers and boost it by $10 a passenger. He also would increase taxes on corporations by $3.5 billion and earmark money for education from the auction of radio spectrum.
Clinton was to unveil his proposal in a commencement address at Princeton University Tuesday.
The speech is Clinton's third commencement address. All have dealt with ways to carry the nation's economic prosperity into the 21st century. The earlier speeches were at Pennsylvania State University and the Coast Guard Academy.
Presidential spokesman Mike McCurry said Monday that Clinton was keenly interested in encouraging more Americans to go to college or into some sort of post-secondary training to improve their earning potential.
"One thing that is clear over and over again: With higher education and higher learning goes higher earning," McCurry said.
Dole said Monday that Clinton "imposed the largest tax increase in the history of America on you, the people, and I intend to go in precisely the opposite direction."