Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., will propose on Monday eliminating all $1.6 trillion of student debt held in the United States, a significant escalation of the policy fight in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary two days before the candidates’ first debate in Miami.
Sanders is proposing that the federal government pay to wipe clean the student debt held by 45 million Americans – including all private and graduate school debt – as part of a package that also would make public universities, community colleges and trade schools tuition-free.
Sanders is proposing to pay for these plans with a tax on Wall Street his campaign says will raise more than $2 trillion over 10 years, though some tax experts give lower revenue estimates.
Sanders will be joined Monday by Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., who will introduce legislation in the House to eliminate all student debt in the United States, as well as Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., co-chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, who has championed legislation to make public universities tuition-free.
Sanders helped popularize demands for tuition-free college during his 2016 presidential campaign run but did less to emphasize solutions for those who had already left school saddled with debt. Since then, liberal Democratic lawmakers have called for increasingly aggressive government solutions for erasing existing student debt, with 2020 candidates Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., proposing $640 billion in student debt forgiveness and former housing secretary Julian Castro introducing a more modest debt forgiveness plan.