What if all the tax cuts for the richest corporations and individuals went towards paying off the entirety of American student loan debt?
Context and what the bill does
President Trump and the Republican Congress’s December tax reform law cut about $1.5 trillion in total taxes. But Democrats criticize the tax cuts towards the wealthiest corporations, individuals, and what they deem to be special interests.
Total student loan debt in the U.S. currently equals about $1.38 trillion. So the Students Over Special Interests Act would repeal the Trump tax cuts and use that money to wipe out the entirety of all student loan debt in America, for 43 million people.
The bill was introduced in late May by Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO2), numbered H.R. 5928. Polis is the top Democrat on the House Education and Workforce Committee’s subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development.
What supporters say
Supporters argue the bill will take the tax cut from those who least need it, instead putting that money towards those struggling lower-class and middle-class Americans who pursued their degree in higher education.
“The Republican tax plan was all about special interests cashing in at the expense of everyone else. My plan shows what a difference we can make for middle-class Americans for even less cost,” Polis said in a press release.
“So many people go to school, get a job, and work hard but still struggle to get ahead because they are weighted down by student loans. It’s time to help them get out from the mountain of debt they are under,” Polis continued. “The good news is — if we repeal the Republicans’ sweetheart deals for corporations, we can cancel out all student loan debt, make college more affordable for future students, and still have money left over to reduce our deficit.”
What opponents say
Not surprisingly, one opponent of repealing the Trump tax cuts would be President Trump.
Trump has portrayed the cuts — including the corporate ones, which are polling far lower in popularity than the individual income tax cuts — as positive for reviving the American business climate.
“Apple announced a $350 billion investment in America. And when I heard it, I said, ‘No, no. They mean $350 million.’ … They said, ‘Sir, it’s not $350 million. It’s $350 billion,’” Trump said in a February speech in Ohio promoting his tax cuts. “And they’re going to do incredible things. They’re going to build plants. They’re going to build a tremendous campus. They’re going to hire 20,000 people.”
“Mobil just announced a fantastic $50 billion investment, if you look at that. Exxon Mobil. Fantastic,” Trump continued. “Fiat Chrysler announced 2,500 jobs are coming back to Detroit — to Motor City. Two thousand five hundred. And do you know where they’re coming from? Mexico. Think of it.”
(PolitiFact rated Trump’s assertion that Chrysler is leaving Mexico as only half true.)
Odds of passage
The odds of passage are nil in this Republican-controlled Congress, but serve as a template for bills if there is a Democratic takeover in 2018 or later.
It will also be more difficult to reverse the corporate tax cuts than the individual income tax cuts, because the former contain no sunset provision and would require Congress to take action, unlike the lower income tax rates which automatically expire after 2025. (Unless those too are later extended.)