Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie SandersMonday to eliminate $1.6 trillion in student debt currently held by 45 million Americans. And he's looking to Wall Street to pay for its cost.
Sanders, along with Reps. Pramila Jayapal, Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, are proposing a Wall Street tax — a tax of 0.5% on all trades, fees on bonds and derivatives. According to Sanders, the tax would raise $2.4 trillion over 10 years.
In addition to debt forgiveness, Sanders would make all public colleges and private historically black colleges and universities tuition-free.
"We are entering a proposal which will allow every person in this country to get all of the education that they need to live out their dreams because they are Americans," Sanders said at a press conference Monday morning.
Sanders said millennials, a key demographic for his campaign, have been "sentenced to a lifetime of debt" upon graduating from college.
According to the Federal Reserve, the majority of young adults with college degrees went into debt in order to graduate. In 2017, one in five individuals with student loans were behind on their payments.
Sanders also said Monday that too many Americans graduating with debt are working in jobs for which they are overqualified.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 40% of recent college graduates work in jobs that typically do not require a college degree. However, that percentage has been steadily declining since April 2014, when the rate was about 46%.
While the Vermont senator introduced the bill with the Capitol in the background, he's touting legislation to help him win the White House.
Sanders' debt forgiveness plan goes further than any of his competitors, most notably, beyond fellow progressive Sen. Elizabeth Warren's plan, which caps debt forgiveness at $50,000. Warren also prohibits forgiveness for households making more than $250,000 a year.
Other 2020 hopefuls have campaigned for changes in higher education funding. Former Vice President Joe Biden and Warren agree with Sanders on free public college. California Sen. Kamala Harris and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper advocate for free community college.