It’s hard to throw a brick at the tax “reform” legislation ricocheting around the walls of Congress without hitting something malignant, malodorous or both.
Let’s have a look at education. Does anyone seriously believe that college education is a bad thing? Does anyone deny that the chances of getting a university education significantly improves the prospects for a well-paying job? Is there serious debate about the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) in improving our global competitiveness? Why, then, would any administration roll logs in the path of those seeking undergraduate or graduate degrees?
A Bachelor’s degree is worth $2.8 million on average over a lifetime. Bachelor’s degree holders earn 84 percent more than those with just a high school diploma. Wouldn’t we want to encourage students down this path? Yet initial versions of the tax legislation would eliminate a deduction on interest paid on student loans, include major reductions in the tax credits for tuition that help students and their families offset college costs, and move to treat employer-provided tuition payments as taxable income.
And if you think it is bad for undergraduates, it is a disaster for graduate students – those pursuing PhD’s, or other higher degrees. A graduate student on a stipend from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) makes $23, 844 a year. To help out, Universities often waive tuition fees. At MIT, that would be $49,000 per annum. The average is more like $16,000. Under the proposed legislation those waived fees would be counted as taxable earnings, and would add thousands of dollars to a student’s tax burden.
And all this for the sake of what? Increased corporate profits? Elimination of the Alternative Minimum Tax for the President and his family? Repeal of the Estate Tax for the Koch brothers? If we do not nurture and value higher education in this country, we will reduce to rubble a pillar of American competitiveness and become a “me too” player in the global economy.
Is that what “Make America Great Again” means? Really??
Support education, and hold our Congressman accountable for this disastrous legislation.