(CNSNews.com) – Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said Monday that it was easier for her to get elected to Congress than it was for her to pay off her student loans.
“I think it’s so funny. A year ago, I was waiting tables in a restaurant, and it was literally easier for me to become the youngest woman in American history elected to Congress than it is to pay off my student loan debt,” she said, speaking at a press conference to unveil legislation proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to cancel all student loan debt.
Ocasio-Cortez began her speech lamenting “the scourge of for-profit education” and “for-profit student loan debt.”
What a beautiful day to liberate our future generations from the scourge of for-profit education, and by that we also mean for-profit student loan debt as well. This is such an important issue, because this is not just about our future generations and our current generations, but this is about our entire economy,” she said.
The congresswoman said that student loan debt is preventing people from buying cars, buying homes, and even starting a family.
“We are experiencing a systemic and economy-wide threat to grinding our economy to a halt, because families and people in my generation – older and younger – are not buying cars. We’re not purchasing homes. We are not building families because of the scepter that student loan debt represents on our generation. It is unjust, and it is a burden that no generation before had to encounter to the scale and the level that ours has,” she said.
Ocasio-Cortez said 17-year-olds are not old enough to vote, drink, or join the military, but they are given the responsibility of taking out $250,000 in student loan debt.
“What we tell 17-year-olds all the time is that you are not old enough or responsible enough to drink. You are not old enough or responsible enough to vote. You are not old enough or responsible enough to serve in our military, but you are old enough and responsible enough to take on a quarter million dollars worth of debt, and that is wrong. It is not right,” she said.
“Not only is that what we are telling children now, minors now, but that’s what we have told them for decades, and it has resulted in a crisis that we have seen today. Now people are in their 30s and older that have taken on insurmountable amounts of debt, because we have sold them an empty bill of goods, and what we need to do is make it right, and that is why we have to both make public colleges tuition free and forgive all student loan debt at the same time,” the congresswoman added.
“So that should tell you everything about the state of our economy and the state of quality of life for working people, because in order for me to get a chance to have health care, in order for me to get a chance to pay off my student loans, I had to do something that was nearly impossible, and I don’t think that that is the bar through which a person should be able to access education, health care, and a bevy of other things that should be considered human rights,” Ocasio-Cortez added.