But first, Mark Cuban’s two-minute plan for getting rich.  I’m in love.

And what a fantastic result at the polls yesterday!

Had it not been for the full-scale, sustained attack by the former Soviet Union and the systematic Republican voter suppression that cost us states like Wisconsin, it’s the sort of day we would have had a year ago.

Voter suppression is one of the basic differences between the two parties:  Democrats want to make voting easier; Republicans want to make it harder.

Listen:  “Our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.” — Paul Weyrich, beloved by Republicans like Mike Pence.

Another basic difference is taxes.  Republicans are all about easing the burden on the rich, however relatively-light the burden has become — even if it means exploding the National Debt, as Reagan, Bush, and Bush massively did.

(Leaving Clinton and Obama to get it back to growing slower than the economy).

Yesterday, I covered the inheritance tax.  The Republicans have long wanted to eliminate it, which would help not a single middle class family (but save the Trump kids $4.5 billion).

Today, consider what the Republican tax bill would do to the cost of education.

Handing the mike over to a pro, Dana Chasin, who writes, in part:

The bill that House Ways and Means is marking up hikes taxes in various ways, with the heaviest burden falling on middle and working class students and families — and the changes don’t even raise much revenue in the process.

Student Loan Interest Deduction, Gone?

Under the GOP plan, people who are repaying their student loans would lose their current $2,500 deduction.  . . .

Teacher Supply Deduction, Ditto?

[Today], teachers can deduct up to $250 in expenses for classroom and supplemental supplies.  For two-teacher households, the deduction can total $500 annually. The GOP tax bill would eliminate this deduction completely. . . .

University Endowments

An unexpected provision in the Republican tax bill introduced a 1.4 percent excise tax on the investment income of private universities with an endowment of at least $100,000 per full-time student. . . . The New America Foundation and the National Association of College and University Business Officers estimate that around 160 universities would meet the proposed taxation threshold.  The average loss per educational institution is $187.5 million. . . .

Charitable Deduction

Donations constitute the primary funding source for university endowments.  Such donations can be deducted as charitable giving. With the move to filing taxes on a postcard under the House legislation, the number of itemizers is expected to decline from 33 percent today to about 5 percent. So the millions of taxpayers who itemize the charitable deduction today will no longer be able to do so if the bill becomes law.  As a result, colleges and universities would almost certainly see a substantial reduction in philanthropic donations.

[Not to mention the impact eliminating the estate tax would have — suddenly, giving $100 million would no longer provide a $45 million estate-tax break, and so become nearly twice as expensive.]

Employer-Sponsored Educational Assistance

The GOP plan would also eliminate the tax break for employer-sponsored educational assistance programs . . .

Teaching Assistant Tuition Waivers

The House legislation includes a little-noticed provision in which graduate students who receive tuition waivers while working as teaching assistants or research assistants would see those waivers taxed as if it were standard income. This would require all graduate students to pay taxes on up to $50-60,000 of tuition, limiting this avenue of education to the wealthiest students who can bear that kind of burden (and driving up student debt for those who can’t).

One place the bill would be more generous?

“The Republican tax plan would allow unborn children to be named as the beneficiaries of 529 Plans. Anti-abortion groups have praised the measure,” Chasin reports, “while Planned Parenthood has slammed this as a likely vehicle for restricting access to abortion.”

But by and large, the tax bill would make education more expensive, to help off-set tax cuts for the rich.

Student debt outpaces even auto and credit card debt.  The Democrats have a few simple ideas on this score. The most glaringly compelling?  Let those with federal student loans refinance at today’s low rates — just as you can refinance a mortgage when rates fall.  We proposed it; they nixed it.

Better still: make higher education debt free, as called for in the 2016 Democratic Party platform.

May I make a suggestion?  Let’s keep up the momentum.  If everyone who favors middle-class priorities over tax cuts for the rich comes out to vote Democrat next year, we can begin to get the country back on a progressive track.



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