Jim Banks And The GOP War On Education…

In case you think I’ve been exaggerating about the Republicans making war on education…more evidence has emerged.

According to a report from CNBC, House Republicans have a long-term plan to strip so-called “elite” universities of government funding and federal student loan dollars.

The plan was communicated to a group of business leaders during a private Zoom call last Friday with Indiana’s MAGA Republican Congressman, Jim Banks.

“The hearing was the first step,” said Banks. “The second step is the investigation, the subpoenas, gathering all of the documents and the records,” he said. “Third, that’s when we defund these universities.”

A recording of the call was provided to CNBC by an attendee who requested anonymity in order to share a private conversation.

Banks’ frank description of lawmakers’ plans offers a previously unreported window into at least some members of Congress’ long-term goals with regards to at least two Ivy League universities and MIT, another elite college. House Education Committee chair, Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., said in an interview on NewsNation that the committee is also looking at Columbia and Cornell University.

Banks has also embraced the idea of taxing college endowments; he has endorsed a bill introduced by Senator J.D. Vance of Ohio that would impose a tax of 35% on college endowments worth over $10 billion.

The legislation has little chance of passing the current Democratic majority Senate, or of being signed into law by President Joe Biden. But if there is a Republican in the White House and a GOP-controlled Senate in 2025, the calculus could be very different.

As the article notes, the fallout from a bill like Vance’s wouldn’t be limited to Harvard, Penn and MIT. Yale, the University of Notre Dame, Columbia University, the University of Chicago and Duke University all have endowments worth more than $10 billion, and they use earnings from those endowment dollars to subsidize tuition and fees for students who otherwise could not afford to attend.

Furthermore, all universities–not just the elite ones– rely on significant federal funding,  because so many students pay their tuition via federal financial aid. That aid accounts for the lion’s share of federal dollars that go to colleges and universities.

In 2018, 65% of the $149 billion total in federal funds received by institutions of higher education went toward federal student aid. This covers scholarships, work-study and loans given to students for their educational expenses, according to USAFacts, a nonprofit site that collects government data.

Jim Banks–aka “Focus on the Family’s Man in Washington“–wants to be the next U.S. Senator from Indiana. During his tenure in the House, he has made most of his agenda very, very clear: a federal ban on abortion with no exceptions; no recognition of, or help for, trans children; no restrictions on gun ownership; no affirmative action or other recognition of the effects of racial disparities (he wants to ban DEI programs); no funding for Ukraine, and–as this last bit of news confirms– a constant war on education.

Jim Banks is a theocrat’s wet dream. A Hoosier version of Marjorie Taylor Greene. No wonder Donald Trump has endorsed him.

The voters of Indiana absolutely cannot send this specimen of Christian Nationalism to the Senate.

I have posted before about Marc Carmichael, who will be the Democratic nominee. Marc is the absolute antithesis of Jim Banks–a thoroughly nice person who actually wants to do the job and who supports policies that used to be considered mainstream: a woman’s right to control her own reproduction; sensible gun safety laws; rational immigration reform; support for public education; and many others. (You can check out his twelve priorities on his website.)

Even in Red Indiana, if voters know both candidates–if they know who they both are and what they both stand for, Marc Carmichael will be the next U.S. Senator from Indiana. The only impediment to getting that information out to the voters would be inadequate funding.  So once you’ve confirmed the accuracy of my descriptions of these candidates–please send Marc a contribution! (And tell all your friends and families.)

Progressive voters in Indiana have complained for years that the Democrats haven’t produced strong candidates willing and able to take on the GOP culture warriors. This year, they have nothing to complain about–Jennifer McCormick, running for Governor, is first-rate, and Destiny Wells, running against our embarrassing, ethically-challenged Attorney General Todd Rokita is equally excellent. The candidates they will face–no matter who emerges from the current GOP gubernatorial mudslinging contest–are all MAGA enthusiasts, and worse than substandard.

The time has come to overcome progressive defeatism, and prove that there really is more than corn in Indiana!


  1. If universities have accumulated billions, tax them. Most universities have not accumulated billions. Absolutely tax the most elitist organizations. Why should they be allowed to become vehicles for private equity that have classes on the side–which they seemingly have become.

    Since this might affect the universities attended by the utmost 20%….Democrats will move mountains to avoid such taxation(s). These endowments have little to do with education in and of itself.

    They have almost bec

  2. Amen and Amen, Sheila! We are on the precipice of the cave here and the alternatives you have outlined stand out in stark relief. The election of these cave creatures posing as members of a defunct political party to not only political power but the power of the purse as well signal the end of the Founders’ Brave New World and their embrace of post- Enlightenment experimental democracy, a result that the Putins and Xis and other fascists of this world could only celebrate. To do: Unzip your donation purse to elect democracy-loving candidates at every level of government – while you still can.

  3. It is of note that there are currently 8 US Republican Senators and 6 Republican Congressmen who are alumni of Harvard. Jim Banks went to IU and later to Grace College, a Christian Evangelical school. And didn’t J D Vance attend Yale?
    I don’t think that it is the money thing. I think it is using what the bottom of the barrel Republicans believe their constituents want to hear about “owning the elites”.
    When you run out of governing ideas, this is the sick stuff you come up with.

  4. Funding may be one impediment to getting the message out, but the Indiana Democratic Party surely is a second one. My (casual) observation is that the IDP is certainly aggressive about preaching to the choir, but not so much outside the confines of their social media bubble. This has to change, especially to reach disaffected voters in deep red gerrymandered districts who have given up even on state-wide elections that Democrats could win despite the obstacles to voting put in place by the state GOP to solve a non-existent problem. There is no excuse for the election of such deeply flawed candidates as Diego Morales, Todd Rokita, Mike Braun, and Todd Young, and potentially Jim Banks (and any of the current crop of GOP candidates for governor, who appear to be trying to out-Trump each other) other than the failure of voter turnout (only 39.6% in the 2022 mid-terms).

  5. If only the Democratic Party were to advance an agenda which included an abolishing of taxes upon seniors dependant on SS instead of defending the university endowments–which are tax havens for billionaires.

  6. Talk about your hypocrites, J.D. Vance got his law degree from Yale as a recipient of some of those funds he now wants to tax. In his book he took time to tell people to go ahead and apply to those elite schools, because they have funds to help those who couldn’t afford the tuition.

  7. To make myself feel better about all this Republican “Garbage” I have been watching George Carlin skits. So relevant for where we are right now on a number of subjects.
    I think one of my favorite lines is “Do you know where this comes from? We made it up!”

  8. On the subject of Nationalised Healthcare:

    Republican: Cannot have it! That is socialism.

    Democrat: We cannot have such a thing. That is a populist notion and populism is bad.

    And you wonder why so many have stopped voting.

  9. Any wasting of incipient brainpower on our part is intolerable. It doesn’t matter where on earth that benefits. If combined with exposure to the benefits of, or the threats to, democracy and regulated capitalism, so much the better.

  10. Extremist Repubs have always been cheapskates to a fault when it comes to “ other people’s” problems as long as I have been alive. So it comes as no surprise to me that they would want to defund something as important as education. With the added benefit of course that it makes people less likely to be critical thinkers and able to figure out that they (Extreme Repubs) are full of it.

    When Congress is filled with these big loud gross bullies it’s no wonder at all why we are in the predicament we are in. Decent people have to come forward as soon as possible to establish order within this chaos. Democrats aren’t perfect either and have their own set of crazies too but what they don’t have is a Donald Trump and his mob of crazy people that are talking civil war and stormed the capitol.

  11. Let’s tax athletic scholarships. It burns me to a crisp when excellent students have to transfer to a lower priced institution or drop out and athletes who can perform on the court or field but not in the classroom get a free ride.

  12. Don’t know why educational institutions are exempt from scrutiny. If a person or corporation had a $10 billion dollar lump of money sitting around people like Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and AOC would be calling for them to be paying their fair share. Why does Harvard ($50+ billion in endowments), for one, get a pass?

  13. The devil is in the details. Do we apply a tax only to endowment funds which support education? What about the Gates foundations? Lilly? What’s to keep an institution from creating multiple entities? What’s so magical about $10 billion?

    Should we tax unrealized gains or profits? I wonder how many of us would object to paying taxes on home appreciation or investment portfolios—-directly or indirectly.

    It’s nothing but fodder to create voter anger.

  14. Besides Banks’s war on “elite universities”, Indiana’s GOP has balso been at war with K-12 public schools for at least 15 years (before that, I wasn’t “woke” enough to notice it.

    Our esteemed ex-governor Mitch Daniels even called teachers “elites” when his teacher-hating State Superintendent of Public Instruction got beaten fair-and-square in the election.

    I submit to you that Banks and others like him thugs are the elites they claim to hate.

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