Republicans have seized on the president’s reversal to suggest that he should change course on other policy prescriptions.

The White House said Wednesday it believes that President Obama’s unpopular proposal to tax college savings accounts makes sense as part of a broader education plan.

The decision to jettison the proposal, which had come under criticism from Republicans and Democrats as a middle-class tax hike, was made because the issue had become a “distraction” lowering the odds that Obama’s broader education plan would gain traction, the White House said.

“He didn’t want this to be a stumbling block that would jeopardize the rest of the package,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said.

Schultz stressed that the administration would have only implemented the taxes on withdrawals from college savings accounts as part of a $50 billion program that would have provided tax breaks to middle-class families and students.

But the White House’s insistence that it still believed the savings plans should be taxed is likely to give Republicans — who have seized on the issue in recent days — additional ammunition.

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