There are two big problems with the GOP’s claim that its tax-reform proposals help the middle class.

The first, and most obvious, is that both the House bill, which passed last week, and the Senate bill would raise taxes on tens of millions of middle-class and low-income households by the end of the decade, according to several analyses of the bills.

The second reason is subtler, but perhaps equally significant. To pay for a permanent tax cut on corporations, the plan raises taxes on colleges and college students, which is part of a broader Republican war on higher education in the U.S. This is a big deal, because in the last half-century, the most important long-term driver of wage growth has arguably been college.

The House bill would reduce benefits for higher education by more than $60 billion in the coming decade. It would shock graduate students with sudden tax increases, punish student debtors, and force schools to raise tuition at a time when higher education already feels unaffordable for many students. On balance, the GOP plan would encourage large corporations to invest in new machines in the workplace, while discouraging American workers from investing in themselves.

The Republican War on College

For the cost of cutting corporate income taxes, the U.S. could provide universal pre-K and make tuition free at public colleges for nonaffluent students.

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