Liberal college students predictably pan President Donald Trump’s tax reform plan — except when they think Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) wrote it.
Campus Reform, which tracks left-wing bias at American colleges and universities, interviewed students at George Washington University in the District of Columbia last week. Student after student offered a negative assessment of Trump’s proposal.
But then the interviewer threw them a curveball, asking about specific provisions of the proposal, only telling the students that they were from a "compassionate alternative" developed by progressive icon Sanders.
Asked about a proposal to increase the child tax credit, a woman gave the idea a thumbs-up.
"I was a social worker, so I understand how important tax credits like that are," she said.
Another woman praised a proposal to eliminate the estate tax, which Campus Reform's Cabot Phillips called the "death tax," as Republicans often do.
"I do think that's a good idea, cuz I'm from New Jersey, and we used to have, like, a really heavy inheritance tax," she said.
Had she watched Sanders debate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on CNN last week, the woman likely would have been suspicious of a representation that the Vermont senator was calling for elimination of the estate tax. Sanders vehemently opposed the proposal, calling it a giveaway to the super-wealthy.
The same woman also backed a proposal to reduce the tax on small businesses, telling the interviewer that her family owns a small business.
"I think it was pretty good, like definitely better than whatever Trump is proposing. I would make that leap right there."
One man said, "Any way we can help small businesses work and, like, thrive is definitely something that's beneficial for the country."
Overall, the man said, the plan proposed by "Sanders" was "definitely a good plan, a positive plan that can help everyone."
One student contrasted the plan favorably to the one offered by Trump, not realizing that they were one and the same.
"I think it was pretty good," she said, flashing a thumbs-up, "like definitely better than whatever Trump is proposing. I would make that leap right there."
She and the other students expressed shock when told each of the proposals are elements of the overall reform plan that Trump and congressional Republicans are advocating.
"I am shocked that I do agree with Trump on certain things," one woman said.
She acknowledged that the question would have drawn different reactions if the interviewer had identified it as a Trump proposal up front.
"I think if you'd said it was Trump, at least for many people, there would be more opposition to it just because it was Trump," she said.
Another woman said it "makes it tough to get other points of view" when people go to the same news sources all the time.
Campus Reform did not ask about other elements of the tax plan. The students may well have responded negatively — even to a plan with Sanders' name on it — if asked about proposals to cut the corporate tax rate for large businesses or reduce the tax bracket on upper-income earners.
But it does suggest strongly that negative feelings toward Trump color the way progressive students view policies — even at a Washington campus where students presumably have more exposure to the political debate than elsewhere.
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Last Modified: October 23, 2017, 3:31 pm