Sanders' Proposal Would Cancel All Student Debt
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and two congressional representatives proposed legislation Monday to cancel $1.6 trillion in student loans by placing a tax on Wall Street transactions.
"This proposal completely eliminates student debt in this country and ends the absurdity of sentencing an entire generation, the millennial generation, to a lifetime of debt," Sanders said in announcing the U.S. Senate bill.
"The American people bailed out Wall Street,” Sanders said, referring to the U.S. government $700 billion bailout in 2008 after banks overextended loans to risky borrowers and created a massive financial crisis. “Now, it is time for Wall Street to come to the aid of the middle class of this country."
“Millennials generally have higher student debt than prior generations,” economics and tax expert William Gale wrote in a Brookings Institution report published in March. “They are marrying, buying homes and having children later."
The Great Recession in 2007-2009 significantly reduced household wealth, Gale wrote, “which has only slowly recovered since then.”
Sanders, an independent U.S. senator from Vermont, said his plan would wipe out college debt for 45 million Americans and be funded with a tax on stock, bond and derivatives transactions that would raise about $2.2 trillion over 10 years.
Student debt has become a national issue and other presidential candidates are also addressing it, in part, to appeal to younger voters. Those voters -- age 18 to millennials, who were born between 1981 and 1996 -- recently became the largest voting bloc in the U.S., overtaking older or baby boomer voters.
“RT if you paid off your student debt and are perfectly fine with everyone else’s being canceled,” tweeted Ken Klippenstein, which received 31,000 likes and 13,000 retweets on Twitter.
“I am $180k in debt. I have a PHD and am a tenured professor — my students are in the same boat, sinking in debt. I pay $1100/month in student loan debt, half of my rent,” tweeted Heather Gautney. “We MUST #CancelStudentDebt. Wall St got bailed out, what about us?! #bernie2020” Gautney’s tweet received nearly 600 comments, including questions about why students spend large amounts of money to acquire a college education, like a comment from Sharlene Smith.
“I worked to help put myself through college and when I graduated I had zero debt, no sympathy here. Took a little longer, but hey I also retired early. It is called take care of your self and planning!” Smith tweeted.
“When did you go to school?” asked Brian Hickling in a response to Smith. “It’s radically more expensive now.”
The proposal builds on Sanders' long-standing call to make public universities and colleges tuition-free. Sanders' effort at one-upmanship on student loans, named the College For All Act, would cancel $1.6 trillion of debt and save the average borrower about $3,000 a year, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.
The result would be a stimulus that allows millennials, in particular, to invest in homes and cars that they wouldn't otherwise be able to afford. It would cost $2.2 billion and be paid for by a series of taxes on such things as stock trades, bonds and derivatives, according to the proposal.
Democrats, including presidential rivals Senator Elizabeth Warren and former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro, have proposed smaller student-debt cancellation plans.
Warren has proposed canceling $50,000 in student loan debt for anyone with annual household income under $100,000 and giving substantial cancellation to those making between $100,000 and $250,000. She proposed paying for the plan with a tax on wealthy families. The key difference is that Warren's plan considers the income of the borrowers, canceling $50,000 in debt for those earning less than $100,000 per year and affecting an estimated 42 million people in the U.S.
Sanders appeared at a news conference with Democratic U.S. Representatives Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Pramila Jayapal of Washington, who joined him in proposing the legislation.
Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.
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Former US Congresswoman Liz Cheney Urges Graduates Not to Compromise With the Truth
Former U.S. Congresswoman Liz Cheney implored new college graduates to not compromise when it comes to the truth, excoriating her House Republican colleagues for not doing enough to combat former President Donald Trump's lies that the 2020 election was stolen.
In a commencement speech at Colorado College, the Wyoming Republican repeated her fierce criticisms of Trump but steered clear of talking about his 2024 reelection campaign or her own political future.
Cheney, who graduated from Colorado College in 1988, recalled being a political science student walking into a campus building where a Bible verse was inscribed above the entrance that read, "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free."
"After the 2020 election and the attack of January 6th, my fellow Republicans wanted me to lie. They wanted me to say the 2020 election was stolen, the attack of January 6th wasn't a big deal, and Donald Trump wasn't dangerous," Cheney said Sunday in Colorado Springs, connecting her experiences as a student to her work in the U.S. House of Representatives. "I had to choose between lying and losing my position in House leadership."
In three terms in office, Cheney rose to the No. 3 GOP leadership position in the House, a job she lost after voting to impeach Trump for the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol and then not relenting in her criticism of the former president.
Cheney's speech touched on themes similar to those she has promoted since leaving office in January: addressing her work on the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol and standing up to the threat she believes Trump poses to democracy. She also encouraged more women to run for office and criticized one of the election-denying attorneys who worked for Trump after the 2020 election for recent remarks about college students voting.
"Cleta Mitchell, an election denier and adviser to former President Trump, told a gathering of Republicans recently that it is crucially important to make sure that college students don't vote," Cheney said. "Those who are trying to unravel the foundations of our republic, who are threatening the rule of law and the sanctity of our elections, know they can't succeed if you vote."
In an audio recording of Mitchell's presentation from a recent Republican National Committee retreat, she warns of polling places on college campuses and the ease of voting as potential problems, The Washington Post reported.
Most students and parents in the audience applauded throughout Cheney's remarks, yet some booed. Some students opposing the choice of Cheney as speaker turned their chairs away from the stage as she spoke.
Cheney's busy speaking schedule and subject matter have fueled speculation about whether she may enter the 2024 GOP presidential primary since she left office. Candidates ranging from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley have calibrated their remarks about Trump, aiming to counter his attacks without alienating the supporters that won him the White House seven years ago.
Though some have offered measured criticisms, no declared or potential challenger has embraced anti-Trump messaging to the same extent as Cheney. She did not reference her plans on Sunday but has previously said she remains undecided about whether she wants to run for president.
Though she would face an uphill battle, Cheney's fierce anti-Trump stance and her role as vice chairwoman of the House committee elevated her platform high enough to call on a national network of donors and Trump critics to support a White House run.
A super PAC organized to support of her candidacy has remained active, including purchasing attack ads on New Hampshire airwaves against Trump this month.
After leaving office and being replaced by a Trump-backed Republican who defeated her in last year's primary, Cheney was appointed to a professorship at the University of Virginia and wrote "Oath and Honor," a memoir scheduled to hit shelves in November.
Two of Cheney's five children as well as her mother are also graduates of the liberal arts college.
Cheney's speaking tour appears to be picking up. She is scheduled to appear Thursday at the Mackinac Policy Conference in Michigan.