Increasing taxes on those already drowning in student loan debt to give the rich a tax break denounced as "the height of Republican insanity"
"Soaking broke-ass grad students to pay for a private jet subsidy. All-out class war on the 99 percent."
"An educated population is dangerous to an oligarchy. The GOP claims to be for jobs and economic prosperity for all, but this action shows otherwise."
—Jess Phoenix, California congressional candidateThat was how one commentator described a pair of provisions buried in the GOP tax plan that passed the House on Thursday and is likely headed to the Senate floor for a vote as early as next week.
One provision—crammed in the middle of the latest version of the so-called "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act"—would provide a windfall to the wealthy few who own or lease private planes by exempting them from certain taxes related to "maintenance and support," "the hiring and training of pilots and crew," and "administrative services such as scheduling, flight planning, weather forecasting, obtaining insurance, and establishing and complying with safety standards."
Graduate students, however, would not fare so well if the GOP plan becomes law.
As CNBC reports, "[s]ome programs provide graduate students with a modest stipend for food and housing. For instance, Ryan Hill, a fourth-year Ph.D. student at MIT, receives a $30,000 living stipend and a tuition waiver allowing him to forego paying $50,000 in tuition. He currently pays taxes on his $30,000 stipend, but under the proposed House tax bill, his tuition waiver would also be taxed—meaning he would be taxed as if he was earning $80,000 a year."
In total, the House GOP tax plan would raise taxes by 400 percent on many graduate students, the Harvard Crimson estimated.
Such a tax on students who are already drowning in loan debt "would be devastating," Samantha Hernandez, legislative director of the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students, told Wired. "I monitor all legislation at the state and federal levels that could affect graduate and professional students, and this is just—this would have the greatest negative impact of anything I've seen."
Historian Nick Kapur pointed to his own experience as a PhD student and described the proposed tax hike as "the height of Republican insanity."
Other students, professors, and analysts weighed in on social media, denouncing the proposed tax hike as "an assault on the value of knowledge" that would "make graduate study impossible for everyone who isn’t already wealthy."
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