GOP tax reform could harm OU students


John Bozick, Web Editor

It was during the early hours of Saturday morning that the republicans unanimously passed a  half handwritten, unorganized tax reform mere hours after drafting it. With no time for debate and not even enough time to read the document, Trump’s tax reform passed as a harmful mess for students, the middle class and a large majority of Americans.

The Bill passed almost along party lines, with Sen. Bob Corker being the only republican who voted against the bill due to deficit concerns. The tax plan, which was passed by so-called fiscally conservative republicans, is forecast to see the national deficit rise by close to $1 trillion over the next decade despite economic growth.

Some major issues with the tax bill are the lowering of the corporate tax rate, which would go from 39 percent today to 20 percent in 2019. The plan also increases the estate tax threshold to $11 million, meaning heirs who receive less than that amount would be exempt from paying the estate tax.

The more serious consequences of this bill would target college students and their federal student loans. Writing in her monthly president report, Oakland university President Ora Hirsch Pescovitz spoke about the harm that could come to higher education, urging students to be aware of the harmful changes that could affect OU students.

Pescovitz stated, “None of us wants to see our educational and professional goals impeded or perhaps even derailed. Also, we do not want to compromise the impact we have in terms of advancing knowledge, fueling economic growth and innovation, shaping and enriching human culture, and revitalizing communities.”

Some changes OU students could see were outlined in the president’s report such as the inability to deduct student loan interest from ones federal tax returns. This could lead to overall tuition hikes and troubles with student debt over time.

OU graduate students who receive academic waivers in exchange for research would also be severely impacted, as these students would still be forced into paying the taxes on the value of that tuition. Employees conducting research would also be forced to pay this tax, a move that could discourage some from working in the field. 

This part of the Bill, Pescovitz warns, could very-well lead to tuition increases over time and may discourage students from participating in a graduate study program due to the high costs. 

The House and Senate plan to meet this week in order to discuss the differences between the Senate Bill which passed Saturday compared to the House Bill which passed last month. Yet this process of negotiations may not go as smoothly due to President Donald Trump’s statements around the corporate tax rate.

“Business tax all the way down from 35 to 20,” he said. “It could be 22 when it all comes out, but it could also be 20. We’ll see what ultimately comes out.”

While this move could satisfy deficit concerns, it still does nothing to help many of those negatively impacted by the Bill. Instead it shows that Trump and the GOP continues to work for the best interests of America’s upper class.