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Sanders writes: "I don't often use this phrase but we are, in fact, offering a 'revolutionary' proposal - a proposal that will transform and improve our country in many ways."

Sen. Bernie Sanders. (photo: Getty)
Sen. Bernie Sanders. (photo: Getty)

This Is Why We Should Cancel All Student Debt

By Bernie Sanders, Medium

26 June 19


don’t often use this phrase but we are, in fact, offering a “revolutionary” proposal — a proposal that will transform and improve our country in many ways.

In a highly competitive global economy, when we need the best educated workforce in the world, this proposal will make it possible for every person in America to get all of the education they need regardless of their financial status. This means not only a college education but the right to enter a trade school or apprenticeship program to acquire the skills needed to become a carpenter, plumber, sheet metal worker or many of the other important jobs that keep our society going.

In other words, we will make a full and complete education a human right to which every American are is entitled. This means making public colleges, universities and HBCUs tuition free and debt free by tripling of the Work Study program, expanding Pell Grants and other financial incentives.

Further, in the wealthiest country in the history of the world, it is simply not acceptable that our younger generation, through no fault of their own, will have a lower standard of living than their parents — more debt, lower wages and less likelihood of owning their own homes. That is why 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 — getting a college education.

Ten years ago the U.S. government bailed out Wall Street after their greed, recklessness and illegal behavior drove us into the worst recession in modern history. Today, the major Wall Street banks are larger than ever, their profits are soaring and their CEOs revive huge compensation packages. Our proposal, which costs $2.2 trillion over ten years, will be fully paid for by a tax on Wall Street speculation — similar to what exists in dozens of other countries. The American people bailed out Wall Street, now it is Wall Street’s time to help the working families of this country. This Wall Street tax will have the added benefit of controlling Wall Street recklessness and reducing the likelihood of another major economic crash.

In 1944, as World War II was coming to an end, the U.S. government did the right thing and passed the GI Bill which made free higher education available to all those who served in the Armed Forces. That act not only improved the financial well-being of an entire generation, the Greatest Generation, but it also laid the groundwork for a great expansion of the American middle class.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the federal government and state governments invested heavily in higher education with the result that college tuition was virtually free for millions of young people.

Forty years ago, a federal Pell Grant paid for nearly 80 percent of tuition, fees, room and board at a four-year public college.

Well, sadly, things are different today. Today, it costs over $21,000 each and every year to attend some of those very same schools which 50 years ago were virtually tuition free. Today, Pell Grants cover only about 30 percent of college expenses.

And here are the results of federal and state higher education cutbacks.

Today, the average college senior graduates with about $30,000 in student debt and one out of six seniors will graduate with over $50,000 in debt. The situation is even worse for African American and Latino families. And, at a time when we are in desperate need for more doctors, dentists, and nurses many young people are leaving medical school, dental school or nursing school hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. And here’s a sad truth. Many students drop out of college because of the cost after accumulating significant debt, and don’t even have a degree to show for their efforts.

Let’s be clear. The millennial generation was told that the only way they would get the good jobs available is if they received a college education. That turned out to be dead wrong.

Since 2000, the cost of attending a public college has nearly doubled. Meanwhile, the bottom 60% of college graduates earn less money than those who graduated college did 19 years ago and wages for the average college graduate have stagnated.

Today, 34% of Americans 25 and older have a college degree, but only 26% of jobs in our country require a college education.

The result is that many millions of young people today are forced to work at low wage jobs, their standard of living is going down, while they are struggling to pay off their outrageously high level of student debt.

The bottom line is we should not be punishing people for getting a college education.

It’s time to hit the reset button.

Under the proposal that we are introducing today, all student debt would be cancelled within 6 months.

By taking this action, we will not only provide immediate financial relief to 45 million Americans who have $1.6 trillion in student debt, we will be improving the entire economy.

According to a study from the Levy Institute, cancelling all student debt would add an estimated $1 trillion to our economy over the next decade and it would create up to 1.5 million jobs a year.

Let me conclude by telling a tale of two crises. In 2008, we bailed out Wall Street to the tune of trillions of dollars after they themselves had caused the crisis.

But today we have ignored the economic distress of millions of Americans who through no fault of their own are now deeply in debt.

It’s time to pay attention to their needs. It is time to act.

It is time to cancel student debt.

It is time to make public colleges and universities tuition free and debt free.

It’s time to create an economy that works for all of us, not just the people on top.

Read a fact sheet on College For All here.

Read the legislative text here.

Read a fact sheet on the Inclusive Prosperity Act to raise revenue for the proposal here.

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+9 # laborequalswealth 2019-06-26 10:29
Student debt is effectively a tax on the education received by our children (our CHILDREN!!)Cons ervatives claim to hate taxes, so why are they strangling at least two generations of Americans with over a trillion in ruinous "taxes"?

Cancelling student debt will release billions if not trillions into the American economy because of the multiplier effect. Right now tens of millions of American kids have so much student debt they cannot afford to buy homes or cars or have children.

There will be a demographic nightmare if we don't stop turning our children into debt serfs!
+4 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2019-06-26 16:05
labor -- I would not call student loans a tax. They are an investment scam. The loans are originated by the Dept. of Education but they are sold to private investment banks all over the world. The loans are bundled, sold on the stock market, repackaged in innumerable ways to sell to others. Students loans are the home mortgage scandal of the last 5 years or so. Billions of dollars in derivative profit is made from repackaging them and re-selling them to investors .

Wall Street fucks up everything it gets its hands on. This is not a tax. The government gets nothing and nothing good is done for society. It is a Wall Street Fraud -- that's it.

Read here --
+6 # Robbee 2019-06-26 10:34
This Is Why We Should Cancel All Student Debt
By Bernie Sanders, Medium
26 June 19

- O U T S T A N D I N G !

frankly i want free job training, and retraining, for all who want, and can handle, the training! - even if they don't want to go to college!

this must be an inherent part of bernie's economic promise of "a good job at a living wage!"

* also note that bernie has a compelling, and socially beneficial, plan to fully fund his economic promise with a tax that literally taxes wall street speculation!
+5 # laborequalswealth 2019-06-26 13:56
Yes. This is a win-win-win for the economy. Bernie's plan would:

1. Educate our children
2. Pump money into the economy, and
3. Put the brakes on economically useless Wall Street speculation

The only ones fighting this are the 0.1% and their toadies in Congress.
+5 # HarryP 2019-06-26 10:49
The Washington Post today had a fine article spelling out seven reasons why the $1.6 trillion student debt negatively affects the economy - in a way even Trump voters ought to be able to understand: Its bad for capitalism. The debt depresses the purchasing power of those effected. It thus depresses real estate market and the ability to plan for retirement, etc.

Bernie might want to consider this nuts-and-bolts approach.
+12 # PABLO DIABLO 2019-06-26 11:48
One and One half Percent of the (bloated) military budget would give everyone free college tuition. What do we want to spend our money on, future workforce or endless Wars?
0 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2019-06-26 12:06
While I definitely want the for-profit money lenders out of financing a college education, I'm not sure this financial windfall to the most privileged of Americans is the right way to spend $2 trillion dollars. Everyone knows a college education doubles or often triples a person lifetime earning potential. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports:

" In 2015, adults with bachelor's degrees took home more than those with high school diplomas. Degree holders earned $48,500 a year, while diploma holders earned $23,900."

College grads can afford to pay for their education. I know I sure as hell did.

It is Americans who did not even earn a high school diploma who need the help. There are a huge number of these. Some cities like Chicago have only a little above a 50% high school graduation rate.

The high school drop outs tend to be non-white. They often end up in prison. Many never get full time or steady employment.

College grads are an easy group to help. They have all the privileges and opportunities. We need to figure out how to finance college but maybe we don't need to bail out college students.

Full disclosure -- I've worked in colleges all my life. When I was in college and grad school, I was dirt poor. We all were. Nowadays, many college students live a Club Med life. They have better cars, clothes, apartments than I do now. Parents pay but they also borrow in order to live lavishly. College is not what it was when I was there.
+3 # HarryP 2019-06-26 18:53

Judging by what you’ve written about yourself previously, you’re a septuagenarian who grew up in California at a time when a state college education was dirt cheap (as it was in other states.)
That’s how you could “afford” college education while being “dirt poor” and then subsequently pay off your modest student debt.

Fifty years later the picture looks a lot different. The cost of college, compared to other costs, has risen exponentially. Fifty years ago, students from a middle class background could afford not only a state college adulation, but also an Ivy League education. You argue that the problem was caused by the Dept. of Education and investment bankers, both outride the students’ control. But the responsibility for coping with what other’s have done falls on the students. And that’s ok with you.

You also mention that students today live in luxury. I don’t known with which colleges you have been affiliated with, but the percentage of part-time students (holding down full-time jobs) is great. Then there are those who are homeless, sleeping in cars, scrounging for food.

Cut them some slack.
+1 # USADUDE 2019-06-26 12:39
Our country or the owners of our country love slavery. Indentured servitude has always been a part of our history and our present. A bunch of highly educated slaves won’t strike for better wages. They have debt to service. Furthermore, freedom in america has been redefined as “The freedom to indenture oneself to the financial institution of ones choosing to live the lifestyle one aspires to and cannot afford.” We have applied this model to our higher education system with disastrous results for 2 generations of Americans. Free the modern slaves.
+2 # hectormaria 2019-06-26 13:04
Instead of budgeting $$$ to support policies that kill and maim, lets budget those $$$ for policies that save and heal. Jesus lived to help Mankind...He died to save Mankind. Thus, a real believer in Him must live to love his neighbors, help the stranger; is a humanitarian, not a self-centered individual- be one that's ready to sacrifice a few dollars to help his brethren. However, we are not that magnanimous, nor that religious I'm sorry to say.
+3 # DongiC 2019-06-26 18:44
Bernie's program for education is magnificent. How can we not elect this guy to the presidency? He is for all the people not just a tiny favored few who will do all in their power to bring him down. Their objective is quite simply to hang on to all their riches. Their attitude is so obvious it hurts. But, we don't have to listen to them or follow their terrible advice. We can strike a blow for common sense and the general welfare of all of us by electing Bernie Sanders President in 20/20.

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