Bernie Sanders unveils plan to cancel all $1.6 trillion of student loan debt

Sen. Bernie Sanders unveiled a plan to cancel $1.6 trillion of student loan undergraduate and graduate debt for approximately 45 million people. His ambitious plan has no eligibility limitations and would be paid for with a new tax on Wall Street speculation.

Posted: Jun 24, 2019 12:49 PM


Sen. Bernie Sanders offered up a plan on Monday to completely eliminate the student loan debt of every American, staking out uncharted territory in the Democratic presidential primary.

The new legislation would cancel $1.6 trillion of student loan undergraduate and graduate debt for approximately 45 million people. His ambitious plan has no eligibility limitations and would be paid for with a new tax on Wall Street speculation.

The proposal goes further than the plan previously unveiled by his Democratic primary rival Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Her debt relief package was subject to income eligibility levels to determine how much relief the average person would receive -- parameters that Warren said were aimed at closing the racial wealth gap. Under the Sanders plan, if you have student debt of any kind it would be canceled the second the legislation is signed into law.

"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 for the crime of doing the right thing -- and that is going out and getting a higher education," Sanders, flanked by activists and supporters, said at a news conference in Washington on Monday.

Sanders introduced the legislation with Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar and Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who will co-sponsor a pair of House bills that serve as companion legislation to Sanders' Senate plan, was also by his side for the announcement.

"The bottom line is we shouldn't be punishing people for getting to higher education," Sanders said. "It is time to hit the reset button. Under the proposal that we introduced today, all student debt would be canceled in six months."

This rollout comes at a time when second place in Democratic primary polling, behind former Vice President Joe Biden, seems up for grabs -- with Warren rising in recent voter surveys. With this latest, detailed pitch, Sanders is aiming to solidify his credentials as the most progressive candidate in a field that has largely embraced the priorities he brought to a national audience in 2016. The proposal is sure to invite new criticism from Democratic moderates, who have sought to cast themselves as pragmatic alternatives to Sanders' efforts to fundamentally remake the country's economic system.

On the stump and in interviews, Sanders has long spoken about finding ways to relieve the burden of student debt, but this this is his most specific plan to date. He teased the announcement during an event in South Carolina on Saturday night.

"We are going to forgive student debt in this country," Sanders said last weekend. "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."

The plan is part of a more comprehensive "college for all" program that Sanders has already released in pieces and includes free tuition at all four-year public colleges and universities, as well as community colleges. The broader proposal also includes subsidies to reduce the cost of tuition and fees for low income students at private colleges that historically serve underrepresented communities.

"We will make a full and complete education a human right in America, to which all of our people are entitled," Sanders said on Monday. "This means making public colleges, universities and HBCUs tuition-free and debt-free by tripling the work study program, expanding Pell grants and other financial incentives."

Sanders also talked about his detailed roadmap -- centered on new taxes on Wall Street -- to raise the $2.2 trillion dollars necessary to pay for this program and his other college funding plans. It will include a 0.5% tax on stock trades (or 50 cents for every $100 worth of stock), a 0.1% fee on bonds, and a 0.005% fee on derivatives. Sanders believes that could raise more than $2.4 trillion dollars over the next ten years.

The centrist group Third Way -- a vocal Sanders critic that he recently described as a mouthpiece for "the corporate wing of the Democratic party" -- slammed the proposal before Sanders formally introduced it, calling it "bad policy and bad politics."

"It's a regressive giveaway that primarily benefits upper middle class people who attended elite four year colleges," Lanae Erickson, Third Way's senior vice president for social policy and politics, said in a statement. "And there's nothing about that which will help Democrats appeal to the bulk of black, white, and Latinx voters who don't have a degree."

Sanders has already introduced the Wall Street speculation tax, which he calls the Inclusive Prosperity Act. At an event on Sunday in South Carolina he delivered the political argument for using it to help millions of Americans struggling with student debt.

"Congress voted to bail out the crooks on Wall Street, do you remember that?" he asked the crowd to a chorus of boos. "They provided seven hundred billion in federal loans and in addition trillions of dollars in zero or very low interest loans. So I think the time is now for Wall Street to repay that obligation to the American people. If we could bail out Wall Street, we sure as hell can reduce student debt in this country."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 501652

Reported Deaths: 10024
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34353540
DeSoto32162408
Hinds31977631
Jackson24508383
Rankin22015390
Lee15596235
Madison14597280
Jones13867243
Forrest13461252
Lauderdale11998317
Lowndes11065188
Lamar10522136
Pearl River9547237
Lafayette8557140
Hancock7740127
Washington7443160
Oktibbeha7147133
Monroe6787178
Warren6706176
Pontotoc6677104
Neshoba6642206
Panola6542131
Marshall6476135
Bolivar6323150
Union605794
Pike5824152
Alcorn5676102
Lincoln5439135
George497479
Scott473098
Tippah470381
Prentiss469182
Leflore4663144
Itawamba4640105
Adams4592119
Tate4592111
Copiah448792
Simpson4448116
Yazoo444887
Wayne440072
Covington429094
Sunflower4240105
Marion4232108
Coahoma4168107
Leake408688
Newton381779
Grenada3711108
Stone360664
Tishomingo360092
Attala331789
Jasper330165
Winston314691
Clay308977
Chickasaw301067
Clarke292594
Calhoun279447
Holmes267987
Smith264150
Yalobusha234547
Tallahatchie228251
Greene219449
Walthall218764
Lawrence213140
Perry205956
Amite205256
Webster203046
Noxubee186840
Montgomery179657
Jefferson Davis172243
Carroll169338
Tunica160039
Benton149239
Kemper141941
Choctaw133326
Claiborne132837
Humphreys129638
Franklin120328
Quitman106528
Wilkinson105139
Jefferson94734
Sharkey64220
Issaquena1937
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 820312

Reported Deaths: 15407
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1148731924
Mobile726221339
Madison52362697
Shelby37640350
Baldwin37266552
Tuscaloosa35120612
Montgomery34123740
Lee23540246
Calhoun22236488
Morgan20958378
Etowah19838500
Marshall18381304
Houston17394412
St. Clair16078339
Cullman15468293
Limestone15354199
Elmore15271286
Lauderdale14323295
Talladega13851283
DeKalb12664261
Walker11221370
Blount10207176
Autauga10048148
Jackson9877184
Coffee9211191
Dale8904185
Colbert8877201
Tallapoosa7093198
Escambia6778134
Covington6715183
Chilton6648162
Russell637559
Franklin5969105
Chambers5612142
Marion5010127
Dallas4979200
Pike4796106
Clarke475884
Geneva4575127
Winston4522103
Lawrence4327117
Bibb425386
Barbour357876
Marengo338390
Monroe331664
Randolph329864
Butler326796
Pickens316584
Henry312866
Hale311688
Cherokee302960
Fayette294180
Washington251651
Cleburne247760
Crenshaw245375
Clay243368
Macon234863
Lamar224847
Conecuh186353
Coosa180340
Lowndes175464
Wilcox168939
Bullock151744
Perry138940
Sumter133238
Greene126744
Choctaw88527
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