STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

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 10:57 AM


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."

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 171398

Reported Deaths: 2446
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah34320566
Washington23060229
Marion19838299
Clackamas14975202
Lane11295144
Jackson9709126
Umatilla792683
Deschutes679372
Linn403962
Yamhill403974
Malheur342158
Polk336351
Klamath329257
Douglas300865
Josephine298162
Benton267318
Jefferson204832
Coos194731
Columbia150525
Union140423
Lincoln128220
Wasco126428
Hood River110729
Morrow107115
Clatsop8768
Crook84619
Baker81213
Curry5829
Tillamook5692
Lake4127
Grant3464
Harney3036
Wallowa1565
Sherman560
Gilliam551
Wheeler251
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3706629

Reported Deaths: 60547
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles122662723505
Riverside2968014504
San Bernardino2939254493
San Diego2737083623
Orange2684144849
Santa Clara1164362002
Kern1074341306
Sacramento1005871644
Fresno1002771633
Alameda848171447
Ventura80112990
San Joaquin711781334
Contra Costa66567777
Stanislaus600831020
Tulare49300824
Monterey43209348
San Mateo40920556
San Francisco35841506
Santa Barbara33736444
Solano31702238
Merced31105449
Sonoma29573311
Imperial27851717
Kings22723245
Placer21600281
San Luis Obispo20827256
Madera16174239
Santa Cruz15432203
Marin13815224
Yolo13510199
Shasta11570214
Butte11488193
El Dorado9662108
Napa961880
Sutter9245106
Yuba608343
San Benito594262
Lassen566624
Tehama539356
Nevada441875
Tuolumne405864
Mendocino397747
Amador360746
Humboldt356036
Lake338043
Glenn234925
Colusa218816
Calaveras204551
Siskiyou190920
Inyo141638
Mono12724
Del Norte12637
Plumas6886
Modoc4874
Mariposa4177
Trinity3985
Sierra1080
Alpine880
Unassigned500
Medford
Clear
39° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 39°
Brookings
Clear
57° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 57°
Medford
Partly Cloudy
39° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 20°
Feels Like: 39°
Medford
Partly Cloudy
39° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 39°
Klamath Falls
Partly Cloudy
31° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 31°
Mostly sunny and warmer Wednesday
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events