The current tax bill is a smorgasbord of horrendous ideas. One such horrendous idea is that graduate students should report tuition waivers as income.

This is absurd: I am a doctoral student, and I receive a stipend – in exchange for work as a teaching assistant – of $21,000. The college I attend waives my tuition costs, which would be about $40,000. If this provision stands, my $21,000 income will be taxed as if it were $61,000. I would have a higher effective tax rate than any member of the Trump family. My case, though, is even a fortunate one. A student in my position who has no stipend – and they exist – would see her $0 income taxed as if it was $40,000. What sort of accounting is this, that says zero equals 40,000?

If the House version of the tax bill is adopted and this burden is forced upon us, we who stay the course will have no choice but to accept student loans. Without collective bargaining rights, we have nowhere else to turn. There is nothing about this that will help the American economy. It will only create more debt, more uncertainty, more dependency on loan providers. Who is benefiting here? Financiers, not producers and educators. This is a bill for the greedy demons of today, not the better angels of tomorrow.

This bill is nonsensical, unethical and un-American: Nonsensical, because it thinks zero equals 40,000 (perhaps we should encourage, not punish, math students!). Unethical, because it forces the poor and vulnerable to carry a heavier burden than the rich and secure. Un-American, because it discourages education, self-improvement and progress.

I cannot imagine that Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King want to support such a bill, and have faith that they will soon voice, and continually reaffirm, their displeasure. I thought we would be great again, not taxed higher than before.

Derek Brown