If Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) have their druthers, all student debt will be wiped out and Wall Street will pay for it.
The left-wing legislators touted their plan this week that would dismiss all $1.6 trillion in student debt and make higher education at public institutions tuition and fee free. The federal government would supply 67 percent of the funding to make college tuition and fee free, while states would supply the other 33 percent, according to Bernie Sanders’ fact sheet.
The press release claims that their legislation would “eliminate tuition and fees at all public four-year colleges and universities, as well as make community colleges, trade schools, and apprenticeship programs tuition- and fee-free for all. The three lawmakers’ proposal also eliminates all $1.6 trillion in student debt for 45 million Americans.”
These massive federal government outlays would be funded by levying taxes on Wall Street speculation according to the press release, which says the approximate cost of this proposal would exceed $2 trillion dollars:
The estimated $2.2 trillion cost of this bill would be paid for entirely by a tax on Wall Street speculation. During the financial crisis, Wall Street received the largest taxpayer bailout in the history of the United States. Now, argue the lawmakers, it’s Wall Street’s turn to help rebuild the disappearing middle class. The members of Congress propose imposing a small Wall Street speculation tax of just 0.5 percent on stock trades (50 cents for every $100 worth of stock), a 0.1 percent fee on bonds, and a 0.005 percent fee on derivatives, which would raise up to $2.4 trillion over the next decade.
But not everyone saddled with student debt is jumping on board with this proposal.
In a Fox News opinion piece, Justin Haskins wrote that while he and his wife currently owe over a half million dollars in student debt, he utterly rejects this proposal that would eliminate his financial obligation. Haskins explained that he and his wife racked up much of their debt as his wife studied to become a surgeon—he said that other Americans should not have to foot their bill:
My wife and I did what we needed to do to get her through medical school (and me through graduate school), and although we’re now stuck with a big student loan bill, we’re OK with that. We made a calculated investment in our future, and it’s our responsibility to pay the bill – not our neighbors, not taxpayers – and we hope we’ll end up benefitting financially from our decisions in the long run.
While such a proposal currently has no chance of passing in the Republican-controlled Senate, it does reflect the aspirations of some of the nation’s most progressive legislators and the direction they would take the country if they ever gain enough power to realize their policy goals.