June 22, 2024

Why is the GOP going after education in its new tax plan? Look at Trump voters.

Teacher with students
Image by Ilmicrofono Oggiono/Creative Commons via flickr

The Republican tax bill that just passed the House of Representatives is a nightmare for college students, graduates, educators and even public school teachers. It trashes the student loan interest deduction, raising taxes on 12 million Americans. It eliminates Obama-era credits worth thousands to parents and students that rely on it. It boosts taxes on graduate students to levels that experts say will “make it financially impossible to earn a Ph.D. in the United States.” It taxes college endowments that pay for scholarships and offer competitive wages. It even scraps the tax credit public school teachers use when they’re forced to pay for supplies out-of-pocket.

Why would Republicans stick it to education in order to pay for a permanent tax cut for corporations? The answer’s pretty simple: Look at the party’s base.

Donald Trump lost the college-educated vote by nine points. In fact, education is the number one indicator of whether or not somebody voted for the guy. Pew Research puts it this way:

In the 2016 election, a wide gap in presidential preferences emerged between those with and without a college degree. College graduates backed Clinton by a 9-point margin (52%-43%), while those without a college degree backed Trump 52%-44%. This is by far the widest gap in support among college graduates and non-college graduates in exit polls dating back to 1980. For example, in 2012, there was hardly any difference between the two groups: College graduates backed Obama over Romney by 50%-48%, and those without a college degree also supported Obama 51%-47%.

Donald Trump puts it this way:

The modern Republican Party has always been hostile to education. Its members try to eradicate or dumb-down public education through vouchers and “textbook standards.” They’re in a constant war with teachers’ unions. Why not take a swipe at our nation’s underpaid teachers too?

Conservative talking heads have made a career out of trashing “elites” and other Ivory Tower-types. The Wharton-educated Trump whips crowds into a resentful frenzy with his blue collar populist rants. Now his party is going after the one demographic that stands united against him: The college-educated.

The Republican Party is steadily becoming the refuge of the under-educated, the resentful, and the aggrieved. Trump supporters revel in their ignorance. Is it any wonder the party is going after the college-educated with knives out?

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