Commentary: WASHINGTON—Today, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a multi-trillion dollar tax plan that funds tax breaks for the wealthiest and corporations on the backs of students and working families. The bill, championed by Republican leaders, eliminates a popular tax deduction that allows educators to deduct eligible unreimbursed classroom spending up to $250. The bill also expands a tax loophole for the wealthiest to pay for private school expenses while cutting tax deductions for the middle class. The elimination of most of the state and local tax deductions would blow a hole in the state and local revenues that support public education and would risk funding for nearly 250,000 education jobs.
NEA President Lily Eskelsen García released the following statement:
“Hypocrisy is at the heart of the tax plan approved today by the U.S. House of Representatives. It reveals the ill-conceived and misguided priorities of Republican leaders. Repeatedly, their plan takes from working families to pay for massive tax giveaways to corporations and the wealthy: it eliminates the state and local deduction for people but keeps it for corporations. It eliminates the educator tax deduction for school supplies but allows corporations to continue to claim deductions for supplies they purchase. It eliminates the student loan deduction but opens a new loophole for wealthy families to sock away money to pay for private school tuition.
“It is irresponsible to put funding for 250,000 education jobs at risk and cuts to public education. It is outrageous to expand education tax loopholes for wealthy families to stash away money for private school. Make no mistake: this poorly veiled and risky voucher program will only benefit those who can already afford private school tuition at the expense of our students and neighborhood public schools – where nine out of 10 children attend.
“As educators spend more and more of their own funds each year to buy basic essentials for their students and classrooms, Republican leaders chose to ignore the sacrifice made by those who work in our nation’s public schools to make sure students have adequate books, pencils, paper and art supplies. This is highly hypocritical especially since some Republicans voted to make this deduction permanent in 2015. Now they want to eliminate it.
“We’ve been down this road before. Lawmakers pass massive tax cuts then come back later demanding huge cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security and education to ‘pay for’ the tax breaks for wealthy people and corporations who are not paying their fair share before getting new tax breaks. As with their health care debacle this year, Republican leaders are rushing to pass a massive, partisan bill that impacts every American household, critical public services like education, and our economy without giving it the scrutiny and deliberation it deserves. The American people demand Congress reject this reckless plan.”