2020 Democratic nomination contestant Senator Bernie Sanders on Monday released his plan to tackle growing student debt – the universal cancellation of all debt, no matter what. Vermont Independent’s announcement comes as debt cancellation is more and more popular among Democrats.
Sanders’ plan spans a proposal presented by Senator Elizabeth Warren, the Democrat of Massachusetts and other nomination contestant. Warren’s plan would offer a $ 50,000 loan discount to anyone earning less than $ 100,000 a year, a tiered loan discount to those who earn more than that, and offer no cashback to those earning over $ 250. $ 000 per year. However, the Sanders plan simply promises to write off all of the $ 1.6 trillion in existing student debt, regardless of income category.
Both candidates pledged in their respective higher education plans to make tuition free for two- and four-year public colleges, as well as to invest in historically black colleges and other institutions serving minorities. In the previous presidential campaign, Sanders was the first to free public college call education, a coat that was taken over by Hillary Clinton after winning the Democratic nomination that year.
Sanders campaign argues the salary increases have not matched the rate of increase in overall tuition fees and the cost of college education, leaving “racial and class disparities that persist throughout higher education.”
Mark Huelsman, associate director of policy and research at Demos, said there were benefits to Sanders not including an income cap.
“Sanders’ plan is clearly designed to be communicated simply and easily, and stems from a broader political philosophy and a vision of how we should deliver public goods,” Huelsman said in an email. “It’s a bigger plan in terms of the number of dollars forgiven. But by removing the income cap and the amount of debt that can be forgiven, it opens up debt forgiveness for higher income people rather than to upper-middle-class households only. It is really important to ensure that any policy is designed in such a way that it does not exacerbate inequalities in wealth, especially between races. “
Huelsman said the plans are relatively the same minus the income cap and the fact that Warren’s plan would only write off debt for 75% of people. However, he said Sanders’ plan would give more to the richest borrowers and be “unlikely to close the wealth gap.”
Warren’s plan has drawn a lot of criticism for possibly benefiting the wealthiest people. Don Heller, rector and vice president of academic affairs at the University of San Francisco, said this problem would only be exacerbated with Sanders’ universal plan.
“The main concerns I have with this plan are simply magnified over those of Warren in this [Sanders] gives debt relief to those who just don’t need it, ”Heller said. “They are ready and able to repay their student loans. You are simply giving a taxpayer public benefit to people from wealthy families who just don’t need it – it would be like giving food stamps to Donald Trump’s family. “
Tamara Hiler, deputy director of education at Third Way, a centrist Democratic think tank, similarly feared the plan would not help those who need it most. She also said it does nothing for the large number of Americans who are not looking to get a college degree. However, between the two shots, Hiler said Warren’s was “more thoughtful” because it included the income cap.
“We believe blanket debt cancellation in general is bad policy that primarily benefits upper-middle-class people who have attended elite four-year colleges, and does nothing to please most Americans. who don’t have a college degree, ”Hiler said. in an email. “Limited funds should be spent on policies that will better target limited resources toward policies that help equip Americans with the skills they need to earn a good living, not those that pay more tax dollars just to graduate graduates. who are already doing well in this changing economy. “
Both plans are facing opposition to include graduate loans in their debt relief programs. Sandy Baum, a higher education economist and senior researcher at the Urban Institute, said that very few people have debt up to $ 50,000 in debt and those who do are likely to have taken an education program. higher education and higher income. Baum advised Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign.
“Here we give more grants to people who went to college or college and have higher incomes, not everyone,” Baum said. “Think what you could do with K-12 education in this country with this money.”
Baum called Sanders’ plan “more extreme.” This is unlikely to resolve the racial wealth gap, she said, and will instead subsidize many people with bachelor’s degrees and often graduate degrees who have salaries and wages. significantly higher opportunities.
Among the other key distinctions between the Sanders and Warren plans is the fact that Warren’s debt cancellation focuses on federal student loans and does not focus much on private student debt, leaving the possibility open to the public. government to help individuals forgive their private student loan debt. The universality of Sanders’ plan would pledge to help forgive all student debt, even loans from private entities.
“With Sanders’ plan, it’s not just federal student debt that the government could decide to write off. With private student debt [Sanders] can’t just wave a magic wand and wipe out this debt, “Heller said.” The government should be paying these bills, and it’s real money at the door. “
Besides Warren and Sanders, Julián Castro is the only one of the other Democratic candidates to propose a similar plan. The former Housing and Urban Development secretary agreed with Sanders on Warren on free public college, and went further by saying he supports universal education from kindergarten to grade 12. Castro’s debt relief plan, however, is highly targeted and calls for capping student loan payments at zero until a borrower’s income exceeds 250% of the federal poverty line (about 31,225 $ for a one-person household in 2019).
Qualified Democrats will debate this week on two separate days, with Warren debating on Wednesday and Sanders on Thursday.