Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and several progressive Democrats in Washington, D.C. introduced a policy proposal on Monday, June 24 that would cancel all student loan debt and make public colleges and universities tuition-free. Strong congressional support for the policy includes New York City Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Seattle Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, and Minneapolis Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.
The proposal would enact a Wall Street tax or a financial transaction tax of 0.5% on all trades, fees on bonds and derivatives that would raise more than $2 trillion within 10 years. This tax revenue would be used to eliminate more than $1 trillion in student currently held by about 45 million Americans and make all public institutions of higher education tuition-free for in-state students who are able and willing to get higher education as well as qualified to get into a college or university.
Sanders, who is running for president in the crowded 2020 Democratic Party presidential primaries, has publically supported making public higher education tuition-free and reducing student loan debt since his previous 2016 presidential campaign. Sanders and other progressive Democrats across the country have often cited countries such as the Nordic states and Germany as a model for tuition-free public higher education. In regards to reducing student loan debt, countries such as Australia have had an income-based repayment system for 30 years since 1989 in which university graduates pay back their own student loans once they reach a certain income threshold, repayments are income based, and debt payments are collected through the national tax system rather than a specialized separate process.
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