By TIM ROWDEN
Clayton, MO – Graduate student-workers and Missouri citizens rallied outside Senator Roy Blunt’s office recently to protest the GOP tax plan that would dramatically increase the financial burden of millions of Americans, including graduate student-workers.
The tax plan, which Senator Blunt has publicly supported, would count tuition waivers as income, meaning student-workers will have to pay federal income tax on tens of thousands of dollars of “income” they never actually see in their pockets. Senator Blunt’s staff was invited down to listen to the student-workers, but they refused.
Theodore “Joe” MacDonald, a father and graduate student-worker in Washington University’s Classics Department, said the dramatic increase in taxes would make it nearly impossible to support his family while pursuing his career. “This bill will increase taxes for graduate students by over 300 percent,” he said. “This is about putting a tax on the pursuit of education. This is saying ‘let’s have our government put a tax on the pursuit of knowledge’”.
Other graduate student-workers pointed out that the tax plan is particularly devastating to working class families.
STUDENTS IN POVERTY
“The GOP tax plan would result in me having to live on $18,000 a year ($1,500/month) while working 60-plus hours a week.” said Sara McMullan, graduate student-worker and member of the Graduate Student Association at Saint Louis University “This is even worse for students at other institutions where tuition costs are even higher, which will result in students going further into student loan debt, especially for those from low-income backgrounds who don’t have the luxury of getting financial support from their families.”
CUTS TO HEALTHCARE
The GOP tax plan would also dramatically cut public health care programs, such as Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act marketplaces.
“After the GOP failed multiple times to cut public healthcare programs through legislation, they are now resorting to defunding these programs through this tax plan,” said Cody Burleson, a former Washington University graduate student-worker and current organizer with Missouri Jobs with Justice. “These cuts to healthcare will affect millions of Americans and make it even more difficult for graduate workers and their families to survive. All of this, just to give billions in tax breaks to the richest corporations.”