Green Party's Jill Stein: Cancel Student Debt, 'Bail Out Young People'

By Susan Jones | August 19, 2016 | 5:48am EDT
Dr. Jill Stein, presumptive Green Party presidential nominee, arrives at a rally in Philadelphia, Wednesday, July 27, during the third day of the Democratic National Convention. (AP Photo)

( - At a town hall hosted by CNN Wednesday night, Green Party candidate Jill Stein said her campaign is depending on the 43 million Americans who are still paying back their student loans.

"Ours is the only campaign that will cancel that debt and bail out young people like the establishment bailed out Wall Street," Stein said. "When that word gets to 43 million people that they can actually come out and take over this election and cancel that debt, we could see something happen -- not splitting the vote, but potentially flipping the vote, so that we who are the underdog deserve to be the top dog and actually could be the top dog if we stand up with the courage of our convictions."

Moderator Chris Cuomo asked Stein how she plans to erase more than a trillion dollars in student debt.

"So let me say, first, we found a way to bail out Wall Street," Stein replied. "And when we needed the money, we found it, including about $17 trillion worth of practically zero-interest loans, which was made available, you know, as needed.

"We found a way to bail out Wall Street, the guys that crashed the economy with their waste, fraud and abuse. So my point is, as responsible adults, we need to bail out a younger generation that is held hostage in this unpayable student debt. It's terrible for them. It's terrible for our whole society, because it's always the younger generation that leads us forward to create the economy of the future and to lead the social changes that we urgently need right now."

Cuomo noted that the banks repaid the loans.

Stein responded that "it was easy for banks to repay the loans because they're an extremely advantaged and privileged group. They get the money at zero interest, they loan it out at 7 percent, so it's really easy for them to pay back those loans.

"Young people are not in that situation," Stein said. "They don't have the jobs that we need. We don't have an economy that can employ them. So here's what I'm suggesting. That debt is largely owned now by the federal government, the vast bulk of it.

"I'm suggesting that the Federal Reserve actually buy that debt, like it did for Wall Street, but in this case, that it buy that debt and it basically declare that debt null and void, which essentially means that the Federal Reserve would be expanding the money supply into the hands of young people so that they can spend it into the economy.

"Instead of having to pay back the loans with their hard-earned dollars, they now own their hard-earned dollars."

Cuomo interjected: "We're talking about $1.3 trillion dollars or so."

"That's right," Stein said.

"What I'm saying is that they (the Federal Reserve) basically cancel the loans, which is like giving -- it's almost like giving students money. They don't actually give them money. This means that instead of the students paying the banks, the students get to hold onto their money."

Stein said the Federal Reserve "doesn't need the permission of Congress" to print money.

"This is an act that the Federal Reserve can take on its own. Yes, we would sort of owe that money to ourselves. We would owe that money to ourselves. But as a nation, we have the capacity to do that. We can decide to spend money on ourselves, and in particular, we can decide to spend money on our younger generation who currently does not have a future. Who is more worth spending money on than our younger generation?"

The audience applauded.

On another topic, Stein called for "a new kind of offensive, a peace offensive in the Middle East, that begins with a weapons embargo." She wants to close most U.S. military bases overseas, and she would withhold foreign aid for countries that violate human rights (she mentioned Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt).

Stein said her Green Party will roll out an emergency jobs program "that will actually solve the emergency of climate change that we are seeing in the floods and the fires and the heatwaves across this country that are so painful to watch right now. This is what the future looks like if we don't stand up and start doing something about it."

She also plans to make higher education free; make health care a "human right"; create "a welcomiong path to citizenship"; and end police violence.

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