Trump Threatens Tax Exemption of Colleges

July 13, 2020

President Trump in a tweet Friday said he was directing the U.S. Department of the Treasury to examine the tax-exempt status of nonprofit colleges and universities, alleging that too many "are about Radical Left Indoctrination, not Education."

The threat in some ways resembled a 2017 tweet in which Trump raised the possibility of cutting federal funding for the University of California, Berkeley, over his belief the university had improperly restricted the free speech of conservative speakers, specifically Milo Yiannopoulos, a pundit and provocateur who later largely fell out of the public eye after making statements that appeared to express support for pedophilia.

Experts at the time said current law does not allow the federal government to threaten funding for a university over its treatment of a speaker. And nothing came out of Trump's threat to Berkeley.

The White House did not explicitly link the Treasury tax-status probe to its push for colleges and K-12 schools to fully reopen for in-person courses this fall. But Trump also on Friday tweeted that virtual learning had been proven "TERRIBLE" in comparison to in-person instruction. And a new directive from the administration would prohibit international students enrolled at U.S. institutions from studying fully online this fall.

Asked Friday about the president's tweet about online learning, a White House official emailed the following statement:

Not only does the President want to see schools open but so do teachers, students, parents and health professionals, but if unions and misguided local leaders are going to hold schools hostage, putting our children’s mental and social development in jeopardy, President Trump is not going to waste taxpayer dollars. If Disney World can be open so can our schools and this Administration will work in partnership to provide the resources and guidance needed for higher education institutions as well as local school districts to do that.


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