House Republicans Attack Their Own Tax Bill

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

The House and Senate Republican tax bills are both very bad for many constituencies, but they're particularly bad for graduate students.

Under both bills, graduate students would be taxed on the full value of their benefits rather than what they actually take home, meaning a student who takes home $30,000 could be taxed as if they were taking home $60,000.

Over 30 House Republicans have now signed a letter opposing the tax on graduate students, which is good, I suppose, but they all voted for it!

“A tax on graduate tuition waivers would be unfair, would undermine our competitive position, and would inhibit the economic growth that tax reform promises,” the letter states. It further notes that the policy undermines the goals of tax reform—“to fuel economic growth, create jobs, and raise wages”—contending that a well-educated workforce is necessary to do so.

Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) led the effort, following office visits with graduate students and schools in his district who came to Washington to voice their concerns. House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) said at the American Enterprise Institute last Tuesday that the tax on tuition waivers was part of an attempt to “go down to the bones of the tax code” and simplify it. All of the co-signers on Sessions’ letter voted in favor of the House tax bill last month.

I can't quip that these are the consequences of voting for a bill at 2 a.m. without reading it because, for House Republicans, that was not the case. The House GOP bill was available for a week before they voted on it, which still isn't a great deal of time, but it's enough time to notice something like this.

We did. If the little people sitting at home can read about how badly graduate students are going to get fucked over, why can't House Republicans? Why not thoroughly evaluate the bill before voting for it? Why not at least open the front page of the Washington Post or even the Wall Street Journal before you vote?

  • Arthur Croft

    Republicans are functionally illiterate, apparently.

  • muselet

    The House Rs voted for their monstrosity of a tax bill because it was a thumb in the eye of them damn’ librul colleges! Stephen Moore came right out and gleefully said as much this week in praise of the Senate Rs’ monstrosity of a tax bill.

    That a few House Rs are having a big-time “Oh, crap!” moment and trying to call backsies—presumably because their local universities and colleges have reminded them of the economic advantages arising from institutions of higher learning—impresses me not at all.


  • Nefercat

    At the smallish STEM university where I work, graduate tuition over a year is about $20,000. We are in a rural area and our stipends are low; about $17,000 gross. They are not subject to SS/FICA, but state and federal taxes are withheld. And premiums for subsidized health insurance premiums. I wonder if the insurance subsidies will be taxed as income?

    Students taking home a few hundred dollars on payday will be taxed on almost $40,000 of income. It will drive many students out, which will have a ripple affect on the local economy (the university is the biggest local employer). Repeat all over the country.

    On a larger scale, the US just won’t be conducting nearly as much research, but the fucking stone age republicans are so damn proud of being able to turn the country into the scientific and technological equivalent of a bunch of cargo cults that I’m sure they don’t see a down side. Who needs all that liberal “science” and “facts” and most useless of all, “education” when you can just work three jobs and put most of your income into the pockets of the 1% instead of spending it on women, booze, and movies?

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