Home > Uncategorized > Jeff Bryant’s Analysis of the GOP Tax Bill… as it is NOW

Jeff Bryant’s Analysis of the GOP Tax Bill… as it is NOW

While I try to avoid reading and blogging about bills that will not pass as they are currently written because I view it as “gossip”, I’m making an exception this morning because I believe the so-called “tax reform” legislation reveals the unvarnished priorities of the GOP. As anyone who follows politics at the national level realizes, the GOP is hell bent on passing major legislation that reflects their ideals and, to accomplish this, they have written and edited legislation behind closed doors with no input from the Democrats, no public hearings, and no analysis by independent boards. As a result, voters are getting a true picture of where the GOP wants to head, and, based on Jeff Bryant’s blog aptly titled blog post indicates, the GOP has declared a War on Learning. As Mr. Bryant writes:

What the Republicans propose in their tax plans is not just a raid on education-related budget items for the sake of fiscal efficiency; their plans are part of a strategic offensive against the very idea that all children and youth have a right to a free and high-quality education.

Mr. Bryant offers several points outside of education per se to support his metaphor that the GOP is declaring war on public schools. He notes that “…the plan in the House rolls back some “existing child care benefits in the tax code” and fails to expand a child care tax credit“, which will have the effect of increasing the tax burden on many middle class families. This, in turn will result in parents having less money “…to provide their children with academic and physical education opportunities outside school, including music lessons, sports, and summer camp.”

But the impact on families who rely on the government’s existing safety net are even worse!

As economists at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities explain, these schemes are part of a “two-step fiscal agenda” to cut taxes for the rich to drive up the deficit and then justify deeper funding cuts to programs in the future.

Among the “eventual victims” CBPP predicts are programs for health, tuition, and education, particularly the Head Start program providing learning opportunities for low-income four- and five-year olds. Funding already passed by Republicans provides “little or no increase” for Head Start, so as expenses increase, the lack of new tax revenues available to Head Start will necessitate further cuts and fewer children served.

Mr. Bryant’s analysis of the impact of cuts on K-12 education is even more chilling. First and foremost, both  the House and Senate bills repeal the so-called state and local tax (SALT) deductions:

Ending the SALT deduction would immediately close a spigot of federal dollars to local coffers that pay for schools, I report. But an even worse, repealing the deduction will eventually increase voter pushback against any new local tax increases for schools and put pressure on local governments to cut taxes that are vital to children’s education.

Analysts at the National Education Association calculate that repealing the SALT deduction may “put nearly 250,000 education jobs at risk.” Job cuts of this magnitude will result in fewer services for special needs kids and those who don’t speak English well, larger class sizes with less individual attention to students, and shuttered libraries, athletic programs, and courses in arts and world languages.

Mr. Bryant notes the the bills also indicate a likelihood that the bills will eliminate the $250 deduction teachers can take for buying classroom supplies. He also flags elements of the bill that offer “…new initiatives to redirect public tax dollars to privately operated education providers.” Those initiatives include allowing parents to extend the tax advantages they get from 529 college-savings plans to use up to $10,000 annually for tuition in private K-12 schools, and two proposals that would allow for deductions made to education savings accounts that provide “scholarships” to students who are educated in religiously affiliated schools and other non-public charters. Unsurprisingly, this development pleases voucher fans like Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

The tax hit on those enrolled in higher education is more direct and worse. Here is Mr. Bryant’s synopsis:

As Krugman explains in his Times op-ed, if the Republicans have their way, students taking out loans to help pay college tuition would no longer be able to deduct the interest payments on those loans. Student who get help from an employer to pay for tuition or other expenses, would have the contribution considered taxable income in the House bill. Students who get free or reduced tuition because their parents are university employees will also have to report that break as taxable income. And graduate students who have tuition waived as part of their degree programs would have to report that as taxable income.

The tax increase for graduate students is a full body blow to those who we are expecting to be the nation’s future leaders, entrepreneurs, teachers, and artists. If this measure passes,according to a report from NPR, the 145,000 grad students who received a tuition reduction in the most recent year available are looking at tax increases of as much as 300 to 400 percent.

The House tax plan will make these students’ education unaffordable.

It does not require much cynicism to see that this anti-intellectual tilt to the tax code is a way for the GOP to show the Trump supporters that they are listening to them. Mr. Bryant concludes his post with this:

Opposing the specific measures in these tax plans is important, but it’s essential to call out the intentions behind them…

Based on how the Republicans treat education in their tax plans, the transformation they want would make the nation collectively dumber and much more dependent on profit-making businesses for scarcer services with far fewer opportunities for citizens to better themselves through education.

We must reject that future.

Based on recent reports in conservative media like the Wall Street Journal, the business community the GOP is presumably representing is not pleased with this bill… and neither are conservative commentators like George Will who sees the “reforms” as making the tax code even more opaque. MAYBE this won’t pass as written and MAYBE it won’t pass at all. But one thing IS clear: these bills show the true spending priorities of the GOP, and they do not include support for children, assistance for parents, public education, or higher education.




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