Help the Economy, It Does Not
November 19, 2017 | Below is a letter I wrote and sent to my two senators regarding the GOP's latest tax bill, which has been passed by the House of Representatives and a panel in the Senate.
I am writing to you as a young professional and prospective graduate student concerned about the tax bill that has just passed the House of Representatives. The tax bill is certainly problematic in many ways, but one particular aspect is detrimental to young scholars like me and, ultimately, to the economy and global standing of the United States.
This bill would require graduate students who receive tuition forgiveness and educational stipends to report that financial aid as income. Graduate students are a minority population, and such taxation would have minimal effects on the debt-to-revenue ratio for the U.S. government. This tax bill simultaneously proposes over one trillion dollars in tax cuts, primarily for corporations. While I understand that heavy taxes can hurt corporations and therefore the economy, I simply cannot fathom the logic behind taxing graduate students to reduce the debt-to-revenue ratio while allowing a tax cut of such magnitude for corporations.
The United States should do all it can to foster well-educated individuals and promote a skilled workforce. This is necessary in the twenty-first century, as unskilled labor is being made obsolete by automation and globalization, trends that will only continue in the future. Part of what makes the United States such a powerful and truly great country is its educational opportunities. We have the top universities in the world, and attract students from every corner of the globe. Our lawmakers must encourage our own citizens to have access to those opportunities. This bill gravely threatens access to education and will eviscerate our educational preeminence worldwide.
As a recent participant in the Fulbright Program—a government-run program that is perhaps the foremost example of U.S. educational prowess overseas—I can speak firsthand to the respect the United States has commanded for many decades. I have had the privilege to travel the world as a representative of the United States and its government, and, in that capacity, heard the opinions of foreigners on our education system and country as a whole. I cannot foresee a future with this bill passed in which the United States evokes such high opinions as the ones I heard myself, due to the impeding effects this bill will have on our education system.
If Republicans, Democrats, and independents alike care about the economy and global standing of the United States in years to come, they should not support this bill. As my senator, I ask that you do everything in your power to ensure that this bill does not pass the Senate for the reasons I mentioned above. As a Millennial who witnessed the 2008-09 recession, I assure you that I am as concerned about the U.S. economy as those who now seek to bolster it with this bill. However, this is not the best or even a good course of action for that.
Please share my comments with your colleagues as you see fit.
With great concern,
Fulbright Recipient, Russia 2016-17
The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of other Arbitror contributors or of Arbitror itself.
Photo: "Morning on Capitol Hill" by K3nna for Flickr.