Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, an Independent who caucuses with the Democrats – and describes himself as a socialist – introduced a bill today that apparently would eliminate the estimated $1.6 trillion in student debt across America. The College for All Act is sponsored by Sanders, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.).
In addition, the legislation allegedly would “eliminate tuition and fees at all public four-year colleges and universities, as well as make community colleges, trade schools, and apprenticeship programs tuition- and fee-free for all,” said Sanders in a press release.
Sanders said the bill would be funded in part by a tax on Wall Street market speculation, reportedly providing over $2.4 trillion in revenue over the next 10 years.
“If we could bail out Wall Street, we sure as hell can #CancelStudentDebt,” tweeted Sanders. As he explained, the bill would impose “a small Wall Street speculation tax of just 0.5 percent on stock trades (50 cents for every $100 worth of stock), a 0.1 percent fee on bonds, and a 0.005 percent fee on derivatives, which would raise up to $2.4 trillion over the next decade.”
"We are going to forgive student debt in this country," Sanders said at a Capitol Hill press conference on June 24. . "We have for the first time in the modern history of this country a younger generation that, if we don't change it, and we intend to change it, will have a lower standard of living than their parents, more in debt, lower wages than their parents, unable to buy the house that they desire."
“There are currently 45 million Americans with student debt,” said Omar. “That’s 45 million people who are being held back from purchasing their first home; 45 million people who may feel that they can’t start a family; 45 million people who have dreams of opening a business or going into public service, but are held back.”
“My bill would end this crisis by cancelling all $1.6 trillion in student loan debt,” Omar said. “This would not only allow Americans struggling with debt pursue their dreams, but would unleash billions of dollars in economic growth—stimulating our entire economy. We can fully fund this with a small tax on Wall Street speculation. The American people bailed out Wall Street. It’s time for Wall Street to bail out American people.”
The bill is an escalation from a similar plan put forth by Senator and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). Warren’s bill would eliminate up to $50,000 for each of the 42 million Americans with student loan debts. She also proposes “free” college tuition.
According to the Pew Research Center, about four-in-ten adults in America under age 30 have student loan debt, with approximately one out of every five young workers with student loans working a second job.
“A college degree should be a right for all, not a privilege for the few,” said Rep. Jayapal. “What’s more, our student debt crisis is oppressing borrowers of color, shutting them out from the benefits that American higher education can and should offer.”
The College for All Act has been endorsed by the liberal/left organizations American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, Progress America, Progressive Democrats of America, and Student Action.