Words of Wisdom from Robert Reich


A basic economic principle is government ought to tax what we want to discourage, not what we want to encourage. For example, if we want less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, we should tax carbon polluters. On the other hand, if we want more students from lower-income families to be able to afford college, we shouldn’t put a tax on student loans.

Unfortunately, congressional Republicans are intent on doing exactly the opposite. The Republican-led House has passed a bill pegging student-loan interest rates to the yield on the 10-year Treasury note plus 2.5 percentage points. Republicans estimate this will bring in around $3.7 billion of extra revenue to help pay down the federal debt. In other words, it’s a tax on students from lower-income families. Meanwhile, most GOP House members and Senators have signed a pledge – sponsored by the multi-billionaire Koch brothers (whose companies are among America’s 20 worst polluters) — to oppose any climate-change legislation that might raise government revenues by taxing polluters.

Go figure.


Robert Reich is an American politician, academic, writer, and political commentator. He served as the 22nd United States Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton, from 1993 to 1997, and was named by Time Magazine as one of the ten most successful cabinet secretaries of the last century. In 2008 he served on President-elect Barack Obama’s economic advisory board.

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