Washington, DC — Democrats from the House and Senate today criticized President Bush and his Republican Congress for signing into law a tax bill that will make it harder for middle-class families to afford college. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Assistant Democratic Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Patty Murray (D-WA) joined Representatives Sander Levin (D-MI), Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Xavier Becerra (D-CA) of the House Ways and Means Committee in protesting this new burden on American families.
In rushing to push through a tax cut plan to placate their increasingly restive base, Republicans stripped away tax deductions that would have helped students pay for college in order to pay for handouts to big business and multimillionaires. With middle-class Americans struggling to get by, Democrats believe America can do better.
“Today’s a good day to be a millionaire, but a bad day if you want to become one,” said Senator Reid. “That’s because President Bush signed into law a bill that makes it harder for the next generation of Americans to get ahead. If America is going to remain competitive with the world, we must stand with our students and the middle class instead of Big Oil.”
“Republicans had to make a choice between working families and students who need to go to college on one hand and Big Oil on the other. They made their choice clear when the President signed the tax bill today,” Senator Durbin said. “The Bush-Cheney administration deserves a big F when it comes to putting the interests of Big Oil ahead of the interests of students and the families that send them to school.”
Said Senator Schumer, “This is a tax bill that raises taxes on the people who need the most help – middle class families trying to send their kids to college. Instead, this bill greatly helps the very, very wealthy, and a cadre of big oil companies who are raking in record profits and charging 3 bucks a gallon for gasoline.”
“I started working for a college tuition tax deduction in 1995, and wrote the provision that created the law in 2001. When this bill failed to renew the college tuition tax deduction, it failed American families and jeopardized our country’s competitiveness,” said Senator Max Baucus, ranking member of the Finance Committee. “We can’t afford to discourage a single American who wants to go to college, but this tax reconciliation report does just that. Reviving this deduction has to be a high priority in the second tax bill.”
“Unfortunately, the American dream of a college education is taking a back seat to politics and tax cuts for those that need them least,” Senator Murray said. “The elimination of the tuition provision amounts to a tax increase on our working families. We can do better.”
“Today, the President sends the wrong message to working families by signing a flawed tax bill that rewards millionaires with caviar and leaves crumbs for the middle-class,” said Rep. Levin, a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee. “The priorities of this Administration and the Congressional Republicans are misguided and upside-down. Deductions of several thousands of dollars for the cost of college for middle-income families are left out, while people making a million dollars or more a year get almost $50,000 in tax breaks. The Republican tax bill is a shame.”
“The average college graduate is starting out with $19,000 in debt. By not including the tuition tax credit, we are going to be adding to their burden, and making it that much harder to achieve the American Dream,” said Rep. Cardin.
“The cost of college has skyrocketed – it’s pricing America’s middle class out of a college education,” Rep. Becerra said. “And not doing anything to help ease this burden is a dereliction of Congress’ duty to help facilitate an educated workforce, which in turn creates a strong, prosperous economy.”
Five years of Bush Republican incompetence has left millions struggling to pay the high prices of gas, education, and middle-class American life. Democrats are ready with a new direction, and want to make middle-class life more affordable.