TAUP strongly opposes the tax bills proposed by Republicans in the House of Representatives and the Senate, and we stand ready to work with any group on campus, among them the Faculty Senate; Temple Student Government and Temple’s Administration, to defeat these proposals. Together, we must all work to stop this ill-conceived attack on economic fairness and education.
Our reasons for doing so stem in part from a disgust at the way the bills largely benefit the wealthy at the expense of the public good. We fear that the large deficits incurred will lead to spending cuts that hurt the most vulnerable people largely left out of these reductions in taxation. The proposals hew to the exploded dogma of trickle-down economics–see Kansas for a recent example of its disastrous effects–whereby we are promised that tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations will yield GDP as high as 4 or 5%, numbers no credible economist, even those in favor of lower taxation, finds plausible.
But we also have very specific reasons that should concern every member of the Temple community no matter your political affiliation–these bills strike at the heart of funding education.
Here are some provisions that directly affect higher ed:
While the recently proposed Senate version would retain the deduction for interest on student loans, the House version would axe it, a change that would make it harder for our students to attend Temple and increase the burden on students already here—as well as many faculty, librarians, academic professionals and other Temple employees still paying off their loans.
Tuition remission for employees and their dependents would be taxed under the House bill.
The House bill taxes tuition remission for graduate school as if it were income. The devastating effects this proposal would have on graduate education if it became law have been well-described here.
There are other attacks on education in these bills, including the removal in the House version of the deduction teachers can take for buying their own school supplies.
Then there is the proposal in both bills to tax endowments at the wealthiest schools; legitimate questions might be posed about the huge endowments some universities have amassed. Still, it is curious that the only entities or persons at the top targeted for tax increases are not for-profit corporations or wealthy individuals but universities!
Finally, the proposal to get rid of State and Local Tax (SALT) deductions—present in the Senate bill but not in the House version—is projected to cut hundreds of billions of dollars in local and state support for education.
So what can we do? Get active! Time is short! Call your Representative and Senator; calls are more effective than emails or even letters, and when you call make sure you let them know that you are from their district or state. Our national union, AFT, has been fighting these proposals since the House bill was released; for instance, you can sign a petition against repealing the SALT deduction here. It is also important to educate others on the terrible consequences of passing tax reform if it looks anything like the two bills that have been proposed; you can find a sample op-ed here, letters to the editor, and other resources if you scroll down a bit from this link.
We’ll be in touch about other ways to push back against this proposed massive transfer of wealth to the wealthy at the expense of education and the public good.