A Great America needs homegrown talent, but tax plan chops at our roots

Marianne Haver-Hill

Propel L.A. Executive Director


America is by all accounts a dynamo of innovation. The factors that make America great include our entrepreneurs, our research, and our American willingness to take risks on new ideas, all of which power our ability to compete globally.

But, all these amazing strengths depend on access to education, for those people willing to pursue degrees in science and engineering, for example. And as jobs become more technical, Americans depend on retraining as “Lifelong Learners.” Our economy, our businesses, and millions of middle class jobs depend on this talent.

However, that access to education is under incredible threat, due to the tax proposal put forth by the House of Representatives. The proposal would increase costs for college students by an estimated $65 billion over the next decade.

The proposal would force students to pay huge taxes on imaginary income they don’t earn, when scholarships or tuition waivers are granted to our brightest or neediest kids. The proposal would reduce the ability of students to take out college loans, because they become even more expensive. It would stifle research as fewer of our neighbors get access to labs where they might create the next cure for cancer or an American invention. It would hurt our ability to retrain lifelong learners for the industries of the future.

American businesses need this talent to stay competitive in the world economy. This tax proposal, coupled with proposed budget cuts to research grants at agencies like NIH, directly target our American exceptionalism. And without talented researchers, where will our new industries, new products, and continuing global leadership come from? We might as well declare war on good, middle-class jobs, as our industries lose their edge.

We should be ashamed. Our country is founded on the American principle of getting ahead through hard work, experimentation, learning, and taking risks in business. Yet we are going to penalize our neighbors who want to develop their talents and contribute to America’s greatness? This is a very shortsighted choice by Congress. And it would hurt us for generations.

Please tell our elected leaders that we need the student loan interest deduction, and we can’t afford the disaster that will occur if scholarships and tuition waivers are taxed as income. We need the Lifetime Learning Credit that helps so many Americans learn new careers.

Our future depends on the skilled people who will spur economic success for all. To make America great again, we need to help, not hinder, opportunities for our neighbors to get higher education. We don’t have much time before legislation moves forward, and your voice needs to be heard.

Marianne Haver-Hill is the Executive Director of Propel L.A., the 2016-2020 Countywide Strategic Plan for Economic Development, launched by the LAEDC.

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