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What the Bush Victory Means for Consumers

Contributed by mm | November 3, 2004 10:45 AM PST

Now that George W Bush is crowned, the next question for consumers will be: what's in it for me? For this purpose, WSJ has produced this story about what we as consumers can expect in Bush's second term.

Below is an incomplete excerpt:

HEALTHCARE

Insurance: Consumers should prepare to handle more of the decisions -- and potentially more of the financial burden -- of health costs.

Seniors: For seniors, Mr. Bush's victory means that last year's Medicare changes are more likely to stay intact.

TAXES

Income taxes: Taxpayers can expect Mr. Bush to push to make income-tax cuts enacted during recent years permanent. That would leave the top marginal tax rate at 35%.

Capital gains and dividend taxes: Mr. Bush would also like to make permanent the capital-gains and dividend-tax breaks he signed into law last year.

Estate taxes: Mr. Bush has vowed to eliminate the so-called death tax in part to help simplify the tax code and provide relief to farmers and small-business owners.

SOCIAL SECURITY/RETIREMENT

Social Security: Mr. Bush has ruled out "changes in benefits for current retirees and near-retirees." But for younger workers, his plans call for permitting them to direct a portion of their Social Security payroll deduction into private accounts and control how that money is invested.

Savings Accounts: Mr. Bush has proposed expanding the existing tax-advantaged retirement accounts program with "Retirement Savings Accounts" and "Lifetime Savings Accounts." Each account would have a maximum annual contribution limit of $5,000. Savers wouldn't be able to deduct contributions on their income-tax return, but earnings would accumulate tax-free.

COLLEGE SAVINGS

529 Plans: Mr. Bush says he wants to make permanent the 2001 federal tax cuts that gave a significant boost to college-savings accounts known as 529 plans.

Pell Grants: Mr. Bush has not proposed raising the maximum grant above $4,050, but under his proposed "State Scholar" program he would give Pell recipients an additional $1,000 in the first year of college to low-income students who take specific college-preparatory courses in high school. Separately, Mr. Bush has proposed that, starting in 2006, a new fund would provide $100 million in grants to low-income students who agree to study math or science. The administration says that under this plan, approximately 20,000 low-income undergraduate students would receive up to $5,000 each.

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