Clinton Pushes Tax Incentives for Tuition $1,500 Credit per Year Would Offset College Costs

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President Bill Clinton proposed a new tax break for college tuition Tuesday, arguing that every American will need at least two years of college education to succeed in the 21st-century economy.

"I believe the clear facts of this time make it imperative that our goal must be nothing less than to make the 13th and 14th years of education as universal to all Americans as the first 12 are today," Clinton stressed at the 249th commencement exercise at Princeton University.

Students would get a refundable tax credit worth up to $1,500 to offset first-year tuition expenses at any post-high school institution of higher learning. They could get another $1,500 credit in their second year if they maintained a "B" average and avoided felony convictions for drug use.

The current Republican Congress is unlikely to approve this latest Clinton plan. It has not adopted Clinton's 18-month-old proposal to grant a $10,000 tax deduction for higher-education expenses - which he still advocates.

The fact that Clinton proposes to pay for his new idea partly by adding a $16 tax on each passenger leaving the country on international flights and partly by raising taxes on exports by multinational corporations also dims chances for enactment by the anti-tax GOP Congress.

Indeed, Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole quickly predicted that Clinton would end up increasing taxes rather than cutting them if re-elected. "There he goes again," said Dole, the presumed GOP presidential nominee, while campaigning in Chester, Va. "Who knows what taxes he'll increase if he should be re-elected."

But Dole praised the tax-credit idea when campaigning Feb. 3 in Indianola, Iowa, according to a quotation that White House aides distributed at Princeton. Commenting on their failed budget negotiations of January, Dole said, "President Clinton had an idea that was pretty good, and that was credits for two-year colleges."

In his commencement address, Clinton said the emerging global economy challenges America to raise its minimum education standards.

"Today, more than ever before in the history of the United States, education is the fault line - the great continental divide - between those who will prosper and those who will not in the new economy. …