Sanders details plan to cancel $1.6 trillion in student loan debt for everyone

Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday introduced his most sweeping plan yet to tackle student debt, promising to cancel all student loan debt for everyone, going considerably further than one of his main rivals, Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

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At a Capitol Hill news conference, Sanders unveiled the plan to eliminate all of the $1.6 trillion of student loan debt in the U.S. held by 45 million Americans. The plan would include all private and graduate school loan debt and would would apply to virtually anyone regardless of income.

Details of his plan were first reported by the Washington Post.

Student-loan forgiveness and tuition-free colleges have been a main component of Sanders’ rise as a presidential hopeful, garnering sharp criticism from both the left and the right for his ambitious, and expensive, proposals.

This latest plan would be coupled with a larger initiative to make all public universities, community colleges, and trade schools tuition-free. It theoretically would be paid for by a new set of taxes on Wall Street, including a 0.5% tax on stock trades and a 0.1 percent tax on bonds.

At the news conference, he will he flanked by Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Rep. Nanette Barragán, D-Calif., and others.

PHOTO: Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks at the National Action Networks annual convention on April 5, 2019 in New York City.Spencer Platt/Getty Images, FILE
Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks at the National Action Network’s annual convention on April 5, 2019 in New York City.

This would not be the first time Sanders and Jayapal have teamed up to propose legislation to tackle tuition, although their previous proposals pale in comparison to the bills expected to be introduced on Monday.

In 2017, they introduced the “College For All Act” which would make public colleges tuition-free for families making up to $125,000 and expand loans for lower-income students looking to attend private universities.

With just two days before the first Democratic presidential debate on Wednesday, Sanders’ proposal may be another way to further distinguish himself from his fellow presidential contenders, even as some of them, longtime friend Warren included, have proposed their own plans to tackle this issue.

Warren’s plan would cancel up to $50,000 in student loan debt for people with a household income under $100,000. Those who make more, up to $250,000 would also get some debt cancellation. But the Massachusetts senator’s plan stops short of relieving debts for those who make more than $250,000.