Biden promised to cure cancer. Trump promised to cure cancer, cure AIDS, and send veritable starship troopers to space. Both men have made “pie-in-the-sky” type promises. However, Bernie Sanders may have made the most interesting- and strategic -promise yet, with the abolition of student loan debt for those enslaved to them:
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., proposed a plan Monday to eliminate all $1.6 trillion in student debt held by Americans by levying a tax on Wall Street banks.
Speaking outside of the Capitol building and flanked by Reps. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., and Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., Sanders called for the elimination of all student loan debt held by 54 million Americans – from both public and private educations – and making public universities, community colleges and trade schools free to attend.
“This proposal will make it possible for every person in America to get a college education no matter what their financial situation,” Sanders said. “We will make a full and complete education a fundamental right.”
He added: “It is unacceptable that the younger generation will have, under no fault of their own, a lower standard of living than their parents’ generation.”
Omar plans to introduce similar legislation in the House to eliminate student debt, while Jayapal – the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus – has been a champion of tuition-free college.
Sanders said his plan, which would put a tax on speculation from major Wall Street banks, would raise more than $2 trillion over 10 years — though some tax experts give lower revenue estimates. The proposal would hit financial institutions with a 0.5 percent tax on stock transactions and a 0.1 percent tax on bonds.
“In 2008, the American people bailed out Wall Street,” Sanders said. “Now, it is Wall Street’s turn to help the middle class and working class of this country.”
“The American people bailed out Wall Street, now it’s time for Wall Street to come to the aid of the American middle class,” he added.
Sanders’ plan is the latest – and most aggressive – one from a 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful to tackle the mounting student loan debt problem in the country.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, another 2020 hopeful, announced in April a plan to cancel existing student loan debt for millions of Americans. Under Warren’s plan, each person’s student debt would get relief of $50,000 if household income is up to $100,000. Higher incomes would also be entitled to big debt reductions, while households earning over $250,000 would get no student debt reduction.
Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro has introduced a more modest debt forgiveness plan as well.
Opponents of these proposals, including some Democrats, question why taxpayers should pay subsidies for the education of Americans who, on average, earn more than those with just a high school diploma.
Advocates, however, argue that student debt has become a major problem for the U.S. economy – reducing millennial spending power and putting home ownership out of reach for many, among other problems. The student debt burden has ballooned from $90 billion to $1.6 trillion in about two decades, according to federal data, and the average college student in the U.S. graduates with $29,800 in debt.
“There are currently 45 million Americans with student debt,” Omar said on Monday. “That’s 45 million people who are being held back from purchasing their first home; 45 million people who may feel that they can’t start a family; 45 million people who have dreams of opening a business or going into public service, but are held back.” (source, source)
I’m not saying that Sanders, if elected, would do this. Indeed, it is as likely as curing cancer/AIDS/going to space. However, it is the most practical and calculating of all the said offers because while curing cancer and AIDS are nice and really affect many people, student loan debt slavery is something that tends of millions of people live with as a present reality that directly affects their ability to live.
Student loan debt is rightly defined as slavery because it is, save for debts ordered to be paid by a court on account of a government ruling, the only kind that is not able to be discharged through the bankruptcy courts. It is also why banks are stringent about giving out most loans to the common man, but are generous with helping one acquire student loans, since they have to be paid back and cannot be abolished ever. Student loans are, arguably, the most evil, insidious form of debt that exists in the country today because it is the closest thing to debt slavery.
Students who got degrees of all kinds have come to know this as they spend years paying on them with no hope of paying them back. It is not a matter of if somebody was “irresponsible” or not at this point because there were many good people who were tricked into taking them as well as it is a proven fact that the loans are tearing the nation apart since people are tied in perpetuity to them.
Sanders may or may not receive the Democrat nomination, but the fact is that if he is serious about competing or wants to seriously “upset” any particular desired outcome for the election, talking about clearing student loan debt is an excellent way to attract Millennials, Zoomers, and even some of Gen X.
The Boomers are not particularly interested in this issue, as they generally have no student loan debts because they were in power and allowed for the situation to be created as it is today. This demographic wants to hear about their retirements, a good economy, and “bombing Iran,” as well as access to Medicare and Social Security money. Millennials, Zoomers, and increasingly Gen X, realizing that they have basically no hope of ever seriously benefiting from these things, could care less.
The current situation still appears to be in Trump’s favor. However, this could change. It will be interesting to watch the public response to the current candidates’ responses, especially on the basis of generational differences, as this will become more apparent as the boomers age.