Written Testimony in Support of Massachusetts House Bill 1582

Proud to have publicly testified in support of this legislation. Below is a transcript of the written testimony.

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Joint Committee on Revenue

Testimony in support of H.1582, An Act establishing a college tuition tax deduction

Chairperson Michael Brady, Chairperson Jay Kaufman, and members of the committee,

The Teenage Republicans of Massachusetts and the Youth Conservatives of Massachusetts strongly encourage the approval of H.1582, an Act establishing a college tuition tax deduction.

House Bill 1582 establishes a college tuition tax deduction that allows the individual (whether it be student or guardian) paying the tuition to deduct 50% of the cost of in-state public college tuition from their income.

As we high school students gear up for college, affordability and possible debt linger on our minds. We all value our education and seek to extend it to the college level, but many students our age across the Commonwealth simply cannot afford to attain that high level of education. We believe that government should strive to make a public college education cheaper through a bipartisan approach of tax deductions, not free tuition.

At the core, House Bill 1582 is a reward for students who choose to invest in their education and future. Students that choose to attend the public institutions in Massachusetts should be rewarded because they are generating more revenue for the state by staying here. While this tax deduction does not dramatically lower the cost of higher education, it still has a positive impact. For example, the current in-state tuition at UMass Amherst is $15,411 per year. As a result of this tax deduction, the individual paying tuition would save $392.98 per academic year, which would total $1571.92 over four years if there are no changes in tuition costs.

This tax deduction can be a deciding factor in choosing a public school versus a private school meaning there is a possibility that it would bring more revenue to the state. This bill incentivizes students to stay in-state for higher education, thus further pushing Massachusetts’ education system higher than it currently is (ie. makes it more competitive and successful).

Another positive effect of this bill is that the money that is saved by the students will either be put in the bank or reinvested in the economy while providing the students or guardians with more monetary flexibility without reducing any funding going toward the school directly.

Ideally we would support the 20% college tuition tax credit (S. 1590) to further enhance economic flexibility and college affordability, but we understand that in the budget’s current situation this credit would result in too much lost revenue for the state.

Ultimately, this bill serves as a bipartisan compromise that can appeal to those who want to provide relief from college costs as well as those who want to lower taxes.

Today more than yesterday, and yesterday more than the day before, students and their families are burdened with student debt. It is often reflected in our friends, our families, our neighbors, and our communities. Student debt has become a fundamental component of society, and therefore these struggling families ask you as legislators to aid them in a reasonable manner.

This bill incentivizes use of our public schools, allowing maintenance and growth, keeping Massachusetts at the forefront of education. As our schools continue to collect the unaffected cost of tuition, they will be able to further invest in on-campus developments.

This bill drives achievement, and achievement is bipartisan. We kindly ask for support of this bill regardless of political affiliation so that we can deliver common sense higher education reform to the people of the Commonwealth.

Sincerely, Mike Brodo, Brandon Fontaine and Samuel Leone

Trump is Wrong to End Michelle Obama’s Girls Education Program

I have linked my friend Sara’s article at the bottom. The text below includes some of my thoughts.

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As some of you know, I aspire to be a diplomat for the US State Department. Over the past few years, I have become more and more interested in being a diplomat in Africa with my primary focus being empowering women through education and achieving gender equality. Most of the problems in Africa are not as purely economic or material as they seem, but rather consequences of a society where half of the population’s knowledge, talents, and possible contributions are disregarded solely due to their sex. I am disappointed with the Trump administration for ending this more than worthy program. As the leading nation of the free world, we should be a shining example of gender equality, and thus promote female education programs around the world.

Source: Trump is Wrong to End Michelle Obama’s Girls’ Education Program

Holliston should allow sale of marijuana

Article first appeared in the MetroWest Daily News

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Last year, Massachusetts voters approved a ballot measure legalizing marijuana for recreational use. Months into legalization, there is still confusion and uncertainty regarding the future of marijuana retail shops. In Holliston, voters next month will consider prohibiting the sale of marijuana in our town, an option allowed under the law. It would be a mistake. Banning marijuana shops limits the possibility of economic and educational growth, and makes our town less safe.

Lacking a supermarket and many chain stores, Holliston is the epitome of small town America. Permitting marijuana shops allows local small business owners, not illicit dealers and cartels, to thrive. Growth means income for families, not profit for illegal activities.

Some argue that these shops will attract crime here, but that stereotype is misguided. Marijuana users come from all backgrounds and use marijuana for various reasons. Moreover, allowing legal sale of the drug will actually enhance safety. For years, marijuana has been traded under a cloud of uncertainty and danger. Retail shops allow marijuana to be sold in a regulated and safe environment, preventing violence at drug deals. This regulated environment also frees police to focus on violent crime and the opioid epidemic that plagues our state.

As a former Holliston public school student, I am disappointed by cuts that have been imposed on our town’s successful education system. Holliston schools are at the core of our town pride, and we should maintain our level of success. Access to technology has become increasingly crucial, and the need for counselors, mental health services, and special education programs are always vital. Allowing retail sales of marijuana in the town could help avoid those educational cuts in the future because the law allows town the option of levying a two percent local tax on marijuana sales that would be paid by non-resident as well as resident customers.

Growing small business, providing a safe and thriving community for our residents, and funding our exceptional schools are all key Holliston values. Holliston residents will benefit from marijuana retail shops in town; oppose this misguided ban and vote for a thriving and prosperous future for our town.

American Exceptionalism

American exceptionalism is about leading the way in search of freedom and prosperity, and calling on the rest of the world to join us in the common cause for justice and a sustainable and improving international community. American exceptionalism is not about undermining democratic systems and the rights of other sovereign nations in order to boost American success while diminishing the possibility of success for developing nations. America needs to be a global leader that leads the way with a beacon of hope and freedom, not a superpower that abuses its power over less powerful countries to solely advance its own interests, and not the common interests of the human race.

Open Letter to President Trump regarding trade policies

Dear Mr. President Donald J. Trump,

Globalization.

Are you familiar with this concept that has made the American economy so strong, the American consumer so wealthy, and the American corporation so exceptional?

It seems as though you may need some brushing up. Your proposed plan to impose tariffs and enact a protectionist national trade policy is alarming, pre-20th century in nature, and simply wrong (to which your reply to me is most likely that I’m “wrong”).

I supported you and I continue to do so. I have seen your success as a businessman and admire your beliefs on tax cuts instead of more government regulation. I admire your desire to make the American economy freer and more capitalist (obviously with some government regulation), and your goal to create so many American jobs. I support dramatically lowering income tax rates for the lower and middle classes, and slightly lowering them for the wealthy. I support lowering corporate tax rates so that corporations can pay their workers more and charge less for their products, while still making the same profit. I admire your commitment to helping the middle class and your realization that welfare and handouts are not the permanent solution to those who don’t truly need them i.e. those who are physically capable of providing for themselves and their family.

But your recent proposals on trade shock me. Deeply.

I was aware of your opposition to the TPP (aka the greatest trade deal ever written), but I firmly believed you would listen to the majority of us Republicans who support it.

But after somewhat accepting that America will be willingly harming its economy (or rather refusing to help it) due to your pen pulling us out of the TPP, I now find myself in a state of confusion and betrayal as a result of your proposed tariffs.

On election day, I celebrated. On inauguration day, I celebrated. And today I continue to celebrate because I still believe you have better ideas to move this country forward.

But today I also worry.

Today, I also feel confused.

Today I also wonder why you, our new Republican president, would enact policies to hurt the economy you promised to grow.

You promised to cut our taxes and give us more rights, but tariffs make Americans pay more for products, thus essentially FORCING consumers into buying American-made products.

This nationalist trade policy is anti-American. In the land of the free, consumers should be able to buy imported goods free from government overregulation of the market. Is that not one of the main reasons we declared our independence? (Add the “Sugar Act” to your list of topics to review).

Many people opposed to free trade argue that free trade hurts American jobs. First, let’s look at why Americans buy so many imported products. The simple answer? They’re cheaper. But what does it actually mean to be a foreign imported product? A large percentage of imported products in the US are actually not stemming from foreign companies. They are products from US corporations that have moved manufacturing overseas. Why? The minimum wage and various taxes in this country are seen as a barrier to profit. Thus, the US corporations move manufacturing overseas, but keep their headquarters here. So when they ship their finished products back to the US for sale, are their products really foreign imports? Is the iPhone actually a Chinese product? You claim that these products take away jobs from Americans because the manufacturing jobs are shipped overseas, but can you blame the businesses considering the current state of our labor costs and taxes?

You think the solution is to impose tariffs on these products; let me debunk this myth for you. A 20% tariff on imported products means it costs 20% more for Americans to buy the same product. If the consumer is unwilling to pay that increase, they will be forced to buy a cheaper product. As of now, foreign products are cheaper because of labor, taxes etc. With tariffs, the cost of foreign products increases due to government intervention, thus making US products cheaper in comparison (meaning they aren’t actually cheaper monetarily), and thus making more consumers buy American-made products.

“Sounds great!”, exclaims the factory worker.

Well, not so fast.

1. The 20% tariff is a violation of consumer rights because it highly discourages consumers (essentially dictates economically) from buying foreign goods (which aren’t always foreign if you think about it). Consumers should be able to choose what they want to buy and who they want to buy it from. Is that not the bread and butter of American capitalism? 2. The 20% tariff HURTS American workers. I’ll give you credit for one thing here, more manufacturing jobs will be created in the US (as a result of your government overreach of power). But, this figure alone is not the whole picture. There are more American consumers than manufacturing workers, and that will always be the case. This tariff may create more manufacturing jobs, but it comes at the cost of the American taxpayer and consumer.

The economy in this country revolves around the consumer.

If the American consumer can now buy less (due to higher prices), the American economy is WEAKER. If the American taxpayer now has to pay more taxes, the government is STRONGER. If the government dictates what products the American consumer can buy and where they buy them from, their RIGHTS are TAKEN AWAY.

In general, this tariff policy may help create jobs for a small percentage of the population, but it will have a NEGATIVE impact on consumers (which includes the workers receiving jobs as a result of these tariffs). After all, isn’t the goal of the US economy to be able to buy more? (Add “consumerism” to your list of topics to review)

Protectionism is an abuse of government power, and it simply doesn’t work in today’s world of globalization.

With multinational corporations, what does it really mean to be an American product? In my eyes, the country in which the product was manufactured means less than the country in which it was developed.

Ever since this country became a superpower, hasn’t American INNOVATION been more of a factor than American manufacturing? We had great manufacturing in the late 19th century, but were we as relevant then?

With the rise of the technological age, the world has looked to America for many advances and breakthroughs. They looked to America not because the products were physically manufactured here, but because our corporations and our people took first steps, and they took these steps successfully.

The Osborne 1 (the first laptop) was developed by Americans, but would it really matter where it was built?

Americans were the first to step on the moon, but if the materials for the Saturn V rocket were mined on another continent, does that make the success of the Apollo program any less American?

The MacBook Pro that I’m currently using to write this was ultimately manufactured in China, and contains parts inside that were individually manufactured across the globe. But aside from the “Made in China” engraving is also another engraving that states: “Designed by Apple in California.”

Apple is one of the many examples of American corporations that through innovation and determination was able to revolutionize the world.

My wish for this country is that it provides a business and innovation friendly environment so that America can continue to be a beacon for scientific development, medical advances, and technological evolution, just to name a few.

Whether or not a product was made in America means much less than whether or not it was invented and designed here. Steve Jobs and his coworkers at Apple put years of work into designing the iPhone. The average worker at a manufacturing plant may spend less than a minute on the iPhone on the assembly line, and the iPhone itself can be built in days or less.

Physical labor is important and can provide jobs, but innovation is what PROVIDES these jobs. Innovation is the key to our economy, both nationally and globally.

Therefore, to fully embrace and support the innovation that America has been leading for decades, your policy on trade must be freer and more friendly to corporations and consumers so that the profits can continue to lead to new developments.

Trade is best done as a competition between corporations to create the best market for consumers, with minimal government intervention. The days of imports and exports of countries having significant meaning are over, but the days of which countries are the most favorable to business and innovation has never been so important.

This being said, I propose to you a plan that will keep and create American manufacturing jobs while also maintaining consumer rights, keeping costs as low as possible, and allowing for more innovation: provide tax incentives and tax cuts to corporations that manufacture in the US (along with lowering corporate income tax rates) and eliminate all tariffs on imported products.

Make companies want to stay here due to an increased net profit, not out of fear of the government artificially eliminating foreign goods from the competition of the free market.

You ran on a platform of creating jobs, strengthening the economy, and rebuilding the middle class.

I call on you Mr. President to live up to these promises.

Cutting taxes and making the US more favorable to business is the solution to these three promises. Protectionism backfires and has adverse effects on these issues you seek to fix.

If you truly want to “Make America Great Again”:

Make America more favorable to business.

Make America have a freer economy that embraces competition not as a barrier to progress and jobs, but as a catalyst for future solutions and improvement.

And most of all, make America the beacon of freedom and innovation, not big government and high taxes.

The economic policies I’ve mentioned are the foundation of our party, and our country.

If you truly want to make America STRONG, WEALTHY, PROUD, and GREAT again, then I call on you to eliminate protectionism and tariffs from your trade agenda, and instead support trade policies that will help corporations, consumers, the economy, and the WORLD succeed.

These are the days of globalization and consumer and economic freedom.

These are the days of innovation and technology.

Mr. President, it’s time for FREE TRADE.

Sincerely,

Proud American citizen and high school student,
Mike Brodo

Fossil fuels cause more problems than simply climate change

The argument against continuing to rely on fossil fuels that isn’t used enough is not about climate change. Climate change is real and is a big reason why we need to stop relying on fossil fuels. But, let’s say for the sake of the argument that the “climate change is a hoax” people are correct. The non-existence of climate change does not change the fact that fossil fuels are non-renewable. Fossil fuels will run out, and if we continue to rely on them, we will run the world back into the dark ages. So to all the fossil fuel supporters… you’re wrong on climate change, but even if you weren’t, fossil fuels are not a permanent solution to energy. Case closed. It’s time to invest in green energy infrastructure, which will create millions of jobs in the process.

Decriminalize drugs to help patients

Decriminalizing all drug use is part of the solution to ending the opioid epidemic. We need to stop treating addicts as criminals, but rather as people who fell victim to a horrible disease. Rehabilitation is beneficial to their recovery; incarceration is not. I hope to see a statewide effort to decriminalize drug use so that we may help these people, not lock them up.