(File photo/The Daily Iowan)

Loebsack: Investing in our state’s future 

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Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, discusses college affordability for Iowans.

When I was a child, my single-parent mother struggled with mental illness and wasn’t able to hold down a steady job. My family often struggled to get by, but when I was young, I decided I was going to make something of myself. And that is why I keep fighting.

I have made it my mission to fight for the middle class and those struggling to get into the middle class. I want to ensure anyone who is willing to work hard has access to the same opportunities I had in order to succeed in today’s economy.

One of the most important factors in my success was having the opportunity to attend Iowa’s high-quality schools. Access to a quality, affordable, education is one of the greatest equalizers we have. As a former teacher, I take the education of our future generation of leaders very seriously and believe that a strong educational foundation for all students is vital for our country’s future competitiveness.

Various initiatives including loans, grants, and tax credits have helped many Iowa students, including me, to be able to afford a quality college education. It is a sad fact that for many, the burden of loan debt can force college graduates to put their dreams on hold. Unfortunately, the proposed Republican tax plan does nothing to make access to college easier. In fact, the Republicans’ tax plan strips away longstanding initiatives that were created to help lower- and middle-class students afford a college education.

RELATED: Senate, House propose tax reform

For example, the tax plan calls for eliminating the Student Loan Interest Deduction. This would lead to 12 million student-loan borrowers, including 178,020 students in Iowa, from no longer being able to deduct the interest they paid on their student loans from their taxes. In Iowa, the average borrower deducts $1,078 from taxes each year. Over the course of 10 years, the elimination of this deduction would increase the cost of college to borrowers by nearly $24 billion. I believe that Congress, instead of debating tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations, should discuss how to make quality education more affordable.

Additionally, many graduate-level students would face higher costs if the proposed legislation is passed into law. The bill would repeal the qualified tuition reduction, which subjects thousands of graduate students to tax increases or tuition increases.

Congress should not proceed with an overhaul of our nation’s tax laws that slashes taxes for millionaires, billionaires, and corporations at the expense of our students. The goal should be to increase access to college and support students when they are just beginning to look for a job. Cutting these deductions hurts everyday Iowans and tells our nation’s young people that their education and their future is not as important as making sure the wealthy and corporations pay their fair share in taxes.

In order to ensure our students are prepared for the future, I believe any tax plan should support and promote continuing education, whether it is at a four-year school, community college, or at the graduate level. As this proposal moves through Congress, please be assured that I will fight to keep college as affordable as possible and ensure students are not punished for investing in their future.

Rep. Dave Loebsack represents Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District and resides in Iowa City.

 

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