Three principles are interwoven throughout elite higher education: (1) sustainability (of the environment), (2) diversity (women and minority students and faculty), and (3) reducing inequality (narrowing the income gap between upper- and lower-income households).
Principles 2 and 3 are somewhat incompatible with each other. Female enrollment has surpassed that of males in undergraduate education and in most graduate fields. Well-educated men and women tend to marry each other resulting in high-income households and well-educated children.
The income tax imposes higher rates on higher-income households, which reduces somewhat the financial well-being of professional couples. It penalizes high-income married women or men, thus taking back some of the rewards of higher education.
If enacted, President Obama’s plan to raise tax rates on households earning more than $250,000 would further penalize professional couples. Perhaps that is the price they are willing to pay to reduce inequality.