On Monday (June 24), Bernie Sanders unveiled legislation aiming to cancel all $1.6 trillion of federal student loan debt held by nearly 45 million Americans.
According to CNN, the Vermont Senator and Democratic presidential hopeful will announce the legislation along with House sponsors Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal, who also serves as the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
“In a generation hard hit by the Wall Street crash of 2008, it forgives all student debt and ends the absurdity of sentencing an entire generation to a lifetime of debt for the ‘crime’ of getting a college education,” Sanders said during a news conference.
Aside from Sanders’ college debt forgiveness program he is also advocating for students currently in college and those who will be attending in the future. According to Bernie, four-year public colleges and community colleges should be free, federal loan interest rates should be lower and the federal government should not make a profit on student loans.
Sanders’ proposal will be paid through a new tax on financial transactions, which he believes could raise more than $2 trillion over the next 10 years. According to CNN, the plan will include a 0.5 percent fee on all stock trades, a 0.1 percent fee on all bond trades and a 0.005 percent fee on all derivative trades.
“We are going to forgive student debt in this country,” he said during an event in South Carolina on Saturday night (June 22). “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.”
Bernie Sanders’ student loan legislation is seen as more progressive than fellow senator and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren’s, whose debt relief package is subject to income eligibility levels.
The biggest difference is that Warren’s proposal considers the income of borrowers, canceling $50,000 in debt for people earning less than $100,000 a year, which affects about 42 million people.
Sanders’ newest legislation proposal comes just two days before the first official Democratic presidential debate, during which 20 candidates will face off against each other during a two-day event in Miami. NBC, which will broadcast the debates, selected 10 candidates to appear each night.
Sanders and Warren will be joined by Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Beto O’Rourke, Amy Klobuchar and more. A second round of debates hosted by CNN is scheduled for July 30 and 31 in Detroit.
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