Daniel S. Katz: How the GOP Tax Plan Will Damage Education

Daniel Katz reviews the many ways in which the tax plan now being debated and being pushed to an early vote without hearings will have deleterious effects on students in higher education and in K-12.

He writes:

“A great deal of ink has been spilled on how the Republican tax bill working through Congress would impact higher education for the worse. The highest profile item is the plan in the House bill to tax graduate student tuition waivers as income, effectively making the young people who are helping the nation move forward with critical research pay taxes on “incomes” that are tens of thousands of dollars higher than they actually get paid. However, higher education takes multiple hits in the House bill such as taxing endowment earnings that go towards school advancement, reducing incentives for charitable giving, and eliminating student loan interest deductions that benefited 12 million borrowers in 2014.

“For a bill that the G.O.P. is trying to market as a “boon” to the middle class, the House bill does not just tax graduate student tuition waivers, but also it takes aim at tuition benefits for higher education employees and their children. The New York Times portrayed a 64 year old night custodian at Boston College who managed to send all five of his children to college using such a benefit and who would never have been able to do so under the House bill. Assurances from House leaders that their bill would grant most Americans so much tax relief that they would not need those benefits ring hollow as analyses show that various provisions in the bills could result in $1.6 trillion dollars of tax INCREASES on middle class earners over the next decade.

“So while the House and Senate bills are not friendly to higher education (the Senate bill somewhat less so), there has been little talk about the potential impact on K-12 education if the Senate bill passes, is reconciled with the House bill, and sent to the Oval Office for splashy signing ceremony. There are several provisions in both pieces of legislation that would take serious aim at K-12 education at the state and local funding levels. Reporters and editorials have stressed that eliminating the deductions for state and local taxes (SALT) including property taxes, as in the Senate bill, will heavily impact Democratic leaning states with higher tax burdens, but the Governmental Finance Officers Association (GFOA) reports that eliminating SALT deductions from the tax code will have a broadly negative impact on tax payers in all states. According to the GFOA findings:

*30% of tax units use the SALT deduction.
*60% of deductions for earners under $50,000 a year come from property taxes and the loss of the deduction would negatively impact home ownership and price stability.
*30% of earners between $50,000 and $75,000 a year use the SALT deduction. 53% of earners between $75,000 and $100,000 a year use it.

“Income earners at all levels would see their taxes go up if the SALT deduction is eliminated.
More importantly from a public school perspective: the loss of the SALT deduction would apply significant pressure on states and municipalities to reduce taxes in order to offset the increases in federal taxes paid by their constituents. Using the 8th Congressional District in Texas north of Houston as a model, the GFOA estimates that the district would see an increase in federal taxes of $306 million dollars. Offsetting that with state and local tax decreases could impact $125 million in school funding. Simply put: education funding is an enormous local and state expenditure, and it would have to be cut in order to provide any relief to tax payers who lost SALT.”

This, it is wrong to assume that the removal of the SALT deduction would harm only blue states. As Katz shows, it will cut funding to most schools.

Read on to learn the many ways that education funding will be slashed because of this tax bill that fattens the bank accounts of the richest.

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Republican Tax Plan Will Have Devastating Impact Across Society: Trickle-Down Economics Redux

The Republican Tax Plan will have devastating impact in many sectors of society, including education and healthcare. It will dramatically increase income inequality, by reducing taxes on the wealthiest and on corporations. The Republicans blithely assume that cutting corporate tax rates will lead to more job creation and economic growth, but past experience suggests that the bonuses for corporations will fatten profits for investors and have minimal impact on jobs.

“The tax plan has been marketed by President Trump and Republican leaders as a straightforward if enormous rebate for the masses, a $1.5 trillion package of cuts to spur hiring and economic growth. But as the bill has been rushed through Congress with scant debate, its far broader ramifications have come into focus, revealing a catchall legislative creation that could reshape major areas of American life, from education to health care.

“Some of this re-engineering is straight out of the traditional Republican playbook. Corporate taxes, along with those on wealthy Americans, would be slashed on the presumption that when people in penthouses get relief, the benefits flow down to basement tenements.

“Some measures are barely connected to the realm of taxation, such as the lifting of a 1954 ban on political activism by churches and the conferring of a new legal right for fetuses in the House bill — both on the wish list of the evangelical right.

“With a potentially far-reaching dimension, elements in both the House and Senate bills could constrain the ability of states and local governments to levy their own taxes, pressuring them to limit spending on health care, education, public transportation and social services. In their longstanding battle to shrink government, Republicans have found in the tax bill a vehicle to broaden the fight beyond Washington.

“The result is a behemoth piece of legislation that could widen American economic inequality while diminishing the power of local communities to marshal relief for vulnerable people — especially in high-tax states like California and New York, which, not coincidentally, tend to vote Democratic.

“All of this is taking shape at such extraordinary velocity, absent the usual analyses and hearings, that even the most savvy Washington lobbyist cannot be fully certain of the implications.

“Mr. Trump and the Republican leadership in Congress — stymied in their efforts to repeal Obamacare, and short of legislative achievements — have signaled absolute resolve to get a tax bill passed by the end of the year. As the sense has taken hold that Washington is now a trading floor where any deal is worth entertaining so long as it brings votes, interest groups have fixed on the tax bill as a unique opportunity to further their agendas.

“There’s a Christmas-tree aspect to the bill,” said C. Eugene Steuerle, a Treasury official during the Reagan administration and now a senior fellow at the Urban Institute. As an example, he cited the provisions in the House bill designed to appeal to the religious right…

“Economists and tax experts are overwhelmingly skeptical that the bills in the House and Senate can generate meaningful job growth and economic expansion. Many view the legislation not as a product of genuine deliberation, but as a transfer of wealth to corporations and affluent individuals — both generous purveyors of campaign contributions. By 2027, people making $40,000 to $50,000 would pay a combined $5.3 billion more in taxes, while the group earning $1 million or more would get a $5.8 billion cut, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation and the Congressional Budget Office.

“When you put all these pieces together, what you’re left with is we are squandering a giant sum of money,” said Edward D. Kleinbard, a former chief of staff at the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation who teaches law at the University of Southern California. “It’s not aimed at growth. It is not aimed at the middle class. It is at every turn carefully engineered to deliver a kiss to the donor class.”

“In a recent University of Chicago survey of 38 prominent economists across the ideological spectrum, only one said the proposed tax cuts would yield substantial economic growth. Unanimously, the economists said the tax cuts would add to the long-term federal debt burden, now estimated at more than $20 trillion.”

The basic idea of trickle-down economics is that enriching those with the most will encourage them to invest in productive industries, create jobs, and thus help those at the bottom, as Money trickles down from the top.

The late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan described this as feeding the horses to feed the sparrows.

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The Disgrace of East Ramapo, New York

The New York Civil Liberties Union recently filed a suit against East Ramapo, New York. The town school board has been almost completely captured by members of the Orthodox Jewish Community, whose children attend private religious schools. The school board uses its power to strip the budget for the students who attend public schools, who are overwhelmingly black and Hispanic.

Teacher Bianca Tanis, a member of the board of directors of New York State Allies for Public Education, here describes this shameful situation and calls on the Nee York State United Teachers to take action to protect the children of the East Ramapo District.

She writes:

“96% of public school students in the East Ramapo Central School District are Black and Latino while 98% of the students attending private schools are white with most attending private religious schools. Only one of the nine Board of Education seats is held by a public school parent. Needless to say, the Board of Education has NOT acted in the best interest of East Ramapo’s 8,500 public school students.

“The New York Civil Liberties union found that between 2009 and 2014 the East Ramapo Board of Education slashed funding to public schools and eliminated 200 teaching positions in addition to cutting numerous social workers and other key personnel.

“According the the NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman, “The East Ramapo school district has effectively disenfranchised the Black and Latino community and allowed white residents to hijack the school board in service of the lily-white private schools. The East Ramapo school board has brazenly diverted taxpayer funds to bankroll white private schools and destabilize public schools. Their policies have compromised the education and well-being of thousands of Black and Latino children. The disenfranchisement and degradation must end.”

“What is happening in East Ramapo is tragic. I have seen it with my own eyes…

“The NYCLU lawsuit demands that the board stop holding elections until a “ward” system is adopted. This would introduce voting on the basis of geographic districts; there would be nine individual districts, with one member elected to the board from each district.”

This situation did not develop overnight. The Regents and the legislature have allowed it to fester, while the children of East Ramapo are cheated.

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Michael Lewis: Inside Trump’s Cruel Campaign Against Science at the U.S.D.A.

This is an outstanding article by Best-selling author Michael Lewis.

It will give you a scary insight into the Trump administration’s determination to stamp out any reference to climate change and to turn the basic functions of government over to the industries that are supposed to be regulated.

Here is a small snippet. The USDA staff waited to greet the transition team with briefing books.

“More than a month after the election, the Trump transition team finally appeared. But it wasn’t a team: it was just one guy, named Brian Klippenstein. He came from his job running an organization called Protect the Harvest. Protect the Harvest was founded by a Trump supporter, an Indiana oilman and rancher named Forrest Lucas. Its stated purpose was “to protect your right to hunt, fish, farm, eat meat, and own animals.” In practice it mainly demonized organizations, like the Humane Society, that sought to prevent people who owned animals from doing terrible things to them. They worried, apparently, that if people were forced to be kind to animals they might one day cease to eat them. “This is a weird group,” says Rachael Bale, who writes often about animal welfare for National Geographic.”

The man chosen as Secretary of Agriculture was Sonny Perdue, former governor of Georgia.

“One week after being sworn in, Sonny Perdue staged a public event at a school in Leesburg, Virginia. The Obama administration had pushed successfully to raise the nutritional requirements of school meals fed to 30 million American schoolchildren, for the first time in 20 years. To receive federal subsidies for the meals they serve, schools are now required to behave more like responsible parents than indifferent ones: more whole grains, more fruits and vegetables, less sodium, no artificially sweetened whole milk, etc. Concannon expanded the breakfast programs for kids who did not get fed at home—and that meal, too, became more nutritious. “You can’t just serve them pancakes and hot dogs,” he says.

“Big companies that provided the schools with meals fought back: it was more profitable for them to serve pancakes and hot dogs than fruits and vegetables. But by the end of 2016, America’s children were eating better than they had been in 2008. “Ninety-eight percent of the schools were meeting the new standards,” says Concannon, “and to those that weren’t, that had some problem, we’d say, ‘We’ll work with you!’”

“At the school in Leesburg, Perdue announced that the U.S.D.A. would no longer require schools to meet the whole-grain standard, or the new sodium standard, or ban fat in artificially sweetened milk. Those changes sound trivial, but the stakes are huge. This is a matter not just of what kind of milk America’s schoolchildren drink but also of the process by which we as a society decide which milk they will drink: will it be driven by the dairy industry and the snack-food industry, or by nutritionists?”

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China’s “ Invisible Crisis” In Education

We have heard for years about the alleged superiority of Chinese education, based almost entirely on test scores on international assessments in which Shanghai comes out on top. Chinese-American scholar Yong Zhao warns in his books that Chinese education is not the paradigm that the Western media has fallen for. One scholar, Tom Loveless of Brookings, warned that Shanghai’s test-taking students were not representative of China. But they were ignored, and so we have been deluged with books and articles about why we should retool our education system so we could “surpass Shanghai” and why American mothers should get Tough and become “tiger moms.”

But wait!

Education in China, Christopher Balding writes, is so underdeveloped that it is a threat to the nation’s economic goals.

He writes:

“A widely held view in the West is that China’s schools are brimming with math and science whizzes, just the kind of students that companies of the future will need. But this is misleading: For years, headline-grabbing studies showing China’s prowess on standardized tests evaluated only kids in rich and unrepresentative areas. When its broader population was included, China’s ranking dropped across all subject areas.

“Official data bears out this dynamic. According to the 2010 census, less than 9 percent of Chinese had attended school beyond the secondary level. More than 65 percent had gone no further than junior high. From 2008 to 2016, China’s total number of graduate students actually decreased by 1 percent. Outside the richest areas, much of China’s population lacks even the basic skills required in a high-income economy.”

Outside of its prosperous urban centers, Chinese education is sharply restricted. Rote memorization continues to dominate even the classrooms in urban centers.

Time to stop mythologizing Chinese education and deal with our own realities.

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Tax Bill Opens Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to Drilling

The more you learn about the tax bill, the worse it is.

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To win Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski’s vote, Republican leaders added a provision to allow drilling for oil and natural gas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Members of the Senate of both parties used to be protective of this pristine area.

What a disaster. All for one vote.

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Trump Paid $1 Million Fine for Labor Practices

This is our president. This is the candidate who told blue collar workers he cared about them and would fight for them.

“In 1980, under pressure to begin construction on what would become his signature project, Donald J. Trump employed a crew of 200 undocumented Polish workers who worked in 12-hour shifts, without gloves, hard hats or masks, to demolish the Bonwit Teller building on Fifth Avenue, where the 58-story, golden-hued Trump Tower now stands.

“The workers were paid as little as $4 an hour for their dangerous labor, less than half the union wage, if they got paid at all.

“Their treatment led to years of litigation over Mr. Trump’s labor practices, and in 1998, despite frequent claims that he never settles lawsuits, Mr. Trump quietly reached an agreement to end a class-action suit over the Bonwit Teller demolition in which he was a defendant.

“For almost 20 years, the terms of that settlement have remained a secret. But last week, the settlement documents were unsealed by Loretta A. Preska, a United States District Court judge for the Southern District, in response to a 2016 motion filed by Time Inc. and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. Judge Preska found that the public’s right to know of court proceedings in a class-action case was strengthened by the involvement of the “now-president of the United States.”

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NPR: The Hoax of the D.C. Public School Where 100% of Seniors Graduated and Were Accepted by Colleges

Last July, I wrote about a struggling high school in D.C. where 100% of the seniors graduated and were accepted by colleges. The story appeared on NPR, and I wrongly assumed that they had done fact checking. I am not a reporter, and I do not have a staff to check out claims. NPR does. But they took the claim by D.C. administrators at face value, without checking.

Now NPR reports that the original story was fishy. Better late than never.

“An investigation by WAMU and NPR has found that Ballou High School’s administration graduated dozens of students despite high rates of unexcused absences. WAMU and NPR reviewed hundreds of pages of Ballou’s attendance records, class rosters and emails after a DCPS employee shared the private documents. The documents showed that half of the graduates missed more than three months of school last year, unexcused. One in five students was absent more than present — missing more than 90 days of school.”

“According to DCPS policy, if a student misses a class 30 times, he should fail that course. Research shows that missing 10 percent of school, about two days per month, can negatively affect test scores, reduce academic growth and increase the chances a student will drop out.”

The majority of the graduating class missed more than six weeks of school.

So now we understand how the reformers in charge of the DC school system got the graduation rate up. By lowering standards. By lying.

Remember Campbell’s Law.

“The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor.”

When you reward schools for higher scores, they will get higher scores, by hook or by crook. When you reward them for higher graduation rates, they will do what it takes—including lowering standards—to reach the goal.

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John Hope Bryant unpacks immigrant entrepreneurs in the streets of Harlem New York.

 

 

DID YOU KNOW? The Most Entrepreneurial Group in America Wasn’t Born in America. Immigrants now launch more than a quarter of U.S. businesses. Helping immigrant entrepreneurs become as successful as they can be is in the country’s best interests.

IN EPISODE 4, John Hope Bryant unpacks immigrant entrepreneurs starting in the streets of Harlem New York, New York, New York

This is my Facebook show series on Delivering The Memo, this series will highlight real-world lessons from my book The MEMO. The best way to tell you whats going—is to show you whats going on.

For Sponsorship Interest, contact Jamie.Nelson@operationhope.org

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