The Tax Bill Is An Attack On Higher Education

Ken AshfordCongress, Economy & Jobs & Deficit, EducationLeave a Comment

Trump is in hard core twitter world again, attacking the media for — well, not exactly sure.

The news isn’t good for Trump with the net closing on the Mueller scandal. Trump is obviously concerned.

But he did talk about the tax bill and how wonderful it supposedly is. I like how he calls the wealthy “job producers”, as if having money and creating jobs are the same thing (hint: they are not).

Well, that’s fine. Because I wanted to discuss the tax plan and just how horrible it is for higher education, particularly private education.

The version of the tax reform package passed by the House eliminates tax-exempt bond financing for private colleges and universities, while still advantaging public institutions with this option. Elimination of access to tax-exempt bond financing for private campuses will make it more expensive for campuses to add new facilities and is certain to slow or stall the facilities plans for many institutions.

The House version of the tax bill eliminates the student loan interest deduction, placing an additional burden on students who do not come from families with the means to pay for college without borrowing. The student loan business is already a profit-maker for the federal government. This proposal sends the wrong signal at a time when more students need to attain some form of education beyond high school to be competitive in today’s workforce.

The House version of tax reform also takes aim squarely at graduate students who perform vital teaching and research functions on many campuses. We live in a time when advanced degrees matter more than ever. People with advanced degrees are leaders in innovation, entrepreneurship and problem-solving. Adding to the tax liability of very modestly funded graduate students is simply counterproductive to nurturing American ingenuity and creativity, the seedbed of economic growth.

The way to become a better America is to become a smarter America. Now is the time to be investing in the young minds of our nation, not retrenching on our global leadership position for world-class higher education.

But this, I believe, is part of a long-term Republican strategy to kill higher education in private institutions (where they have no control), leaving us public universities and colleges.  There is nothing wrong with those except that they can be controlled by legislatures, and that it what Republicans and other authoritarians want.  This is a huge step in that direction, and it is very dangerous.

RELATED: The new CBO score shows that the Senate tax bill screws the poor even more than previously realized:

Republicans are aiming to have the full Senate vote on the tax plan as early as this week, but the new CBO analysis showing large, harmful effects on the poor may complicate those plans. The CBO also said the bill would add $1.4 trillion to the deficit over the next decade, a potential problem for Republican lawmakers worried about America’s growing debt.

Democrats have repeatedly slammed the bill as a giveaway to the rich at the expense of the poor. In addition to lowering taxes for businesses and many individuals, the Senate bill also makes a major change to health insurance that the CBO projects would have a harsh impact on lower-income families.

By 2019, Americans earning less than $30,000 a year would be worse off under the Senate bill, CBO found. By 2021, Americans earning $40,000 or less would be net losers, and by 2027, most people earning less than $75,000 a year would be worse off. On the flip side, millionaires and those earning $100,000 to $500,000 would be big beneficiaries, according to the CBO’s calculations. (In the CBO table below, negative signs mean people in those income brackets pay less in taxes).

Why? The answer turns out to be healthcare:

The Senate Republican tax bill eliminates the requirement that almost all Americans purchase health insurance or else pay a penalty. The CBO has calculated that health insurance premiums would rise if this bill becomes law, leading 4 million Americans to lose health insurance by 2019 and 13 million to lose insurance by 2027.

Many of the people who are likely to drop health insurance have low or moderate incomes. If they drop health insurance, they will no longer receive some tax credits and subsidies from the government.

Conclusion: if you are poor, don’t get sick.