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Sen. Ron Wyden Wants Federal Savings Accounts for All Newborns

After taking now-Chinese Ambassador Max Baucus’s place on the Senate Finance Committee, Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden is poised to become the Democrats’ top leader on tax policy, and his focus is on setting up a system that allows “everybody the chance to get ahead,” according to Fox News. Wyden spoke at the University of Southern California School of Law and the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center earlier this month, where he called the U.S. tax code a “dysfunctional, rotten mess of a carcass.”

His major proposal will be one aimed at “making a major dent” in the national poverty rate and will look like an earlier initiative sponsored by Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York that seeks to give every child a federal savings account. The most recent version of his plan came in 2009, when he proposed giving each newborn $500 in a savings account that could be used for school, buying a home, or retirement.

While Wyden’s version of the national savings account idea has not been written into proposed legislation yet, it will very likely include some of the same provisions as Schumer’s: allowing tax-free donations by family members and annual matching federal funds. However, this is not the only change Wyden is looking at.

According to Bloomberg, Wyden has offered a proposed revision to the tax code with Indiana Sen. Dan Coats, Republican, backing “the extension of tax-free savings opportunities by consolidating different types of individual retirement accounts.” He has also called for short-term extensions for tax breaks that lapsed in 2013 while Congress works on larger tax code reform.

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