All Iowans should be alarmed by Trump and the GOP’s attack on higher education with the tax “reforms” they are about to pass. This further consolidation of wealth among the GOP donor class will not only raise taxes for millions of low and middle-income Americans in the short term, it will also result in the draining of state and local budgets to pay for this unnecessary one-percenter windfall in decades to come.
All reputable analyses have told us what we already know — that these tax breaks will not pay for themselves. So the idea of this as a jobs bill is laughable. The money earned by the wealthy will go toward stock buybacks and executive compensation, and any funds they do re-invest in their companies will go towards reducing the number of employees through automation. And you can bet that as soon as the next recession or severe downturn in the business cycle occurs, the GOP will be right there to ding Americans again with bailouts for their corporate overlords, resulting from the mismanagement and fraud that historically follows these periods of deregulation.
The House bill will drastically raise taxes on graduate students by counting tuition remission as income, which will make the prospect of affordable and debt-free graduate education unattainable for nearly everyone but the wealthy. The bill also takes a cue from Ponzi-schemer Betsy DeVos and eliminates the public service loan forgiveness program, which will severely discourage public service as a viable option for the types of educated and credentialed professionals needed in those positions.
Both bills attempt to undermine the financial stability of educational institutions by taking a big bite out of charitable giving and endowments, which puts small private and non-profit schools at a distinct disadvantage. Add these to the current Department of Education’s hostility toward public schools, attacks on Title IX, and coddling of fraudulent institutions, and it is clear that education is not a priority for the GOP.
Of course this won’t be surprising to anyone who has observed how the GOP has governed in recent decades. The fact that the GOP is now supporting the election of a credibly accused sexual predator of minors, just to ensure that this bill passes, should tell you something is wrong. Iowa has a great system of public universities, community colleges, and private institutions that help bring and keep young and educated people in the state.
The creative professional and entrepreneurial individuals that our communities need often emerge from higher education and this tax bill will be a substantial setback at this crucial time when a whole generation is on the verge of retirement and, despite Trump’s nativist whining, we live in an increasingly globalized knowledge economy. So call, email, and write the Iowa GOP congressional delegation and urge them to make changes to this heinous bill. Don’t let their lower standards of acceptable political behavior trash higher education in our state.