By Todd Smith | The Caledonian Record
For decades Bernie Sanders has raged against “rich and the big corporations,” and he went into overdrive attacking the just-passed Republican tax reform bill. He called it an unconscionable giveaway to the rich, a “looting” of the American Treasury and a “victory” for prominent Republican campaign donors such as the Koch brothers. Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi chimed in with “Armageddon” and “the end of the world.”
We’ll watch as that debate plays out this coming year, but for the moment let’s focus on the one contribution Bernie Sanders made to cripple the Republican bill.
When the House-Senate conference agreement came before the Senate, Bernie and Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden made their move. The Republican bill allowed parents and grandparents to contribute to tax advantaged Sec. 529 education savings accounts for students in grades K-12, including homeschoolers, in addition to students in college.
Senator Ted Cruz, the provision sponsor, said during floor debate, “Now the parents of 50 million schoolkids will be able to save for the education of their kids, and that has the Democrats horrified because every single Democrat voted against the parents in their State saving in a 529 system for K-12 education.”
Sanders and Wyden didn’t have the 51 votes necessary to defeat this provision, but under Senate rules they did have an argument about including homeschoolers. Cruz said:
The Senator from Vermont stood up and raised a point of order and said they want to exclude homeschoolers from 529 plans. There are 1.8 million kids who are homeschooled right now. … [He said] ‘we are going to discriminate against homeschoolers. We are going to cut you out.’ Why? Because the Democratic Party can’t stand the audacity of a parent who would take it upon himself or herself to educate their child free of centralized control. So their point of order is to carve homeschoolers out. … Every other child in America has the ability to have their tuition paid for from these 529 plans, but children with disabilities being homeschooled, [and] every single Democrat stands united [in opposition].
But Sanders won the point of order, and the parents of homeschooled K-12 kids will be denied the use of their 529 account to assist their kids to get a better education, while Bernie rages on about the rich and the big corporations.
That’s a poor day’s work, if you ask us.
Todd M. Smith is the publisher of the Caledonian Record, where this editorial first appeared. He lives in St. Johnsbury.