Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN-05) joined Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) Monday to introduce a bill that would cancel all $1.6 trillion in student loan debt for 45 million Americans.
Omar, who’s sponsoring the legislation in the House, joined Sanders and several of her House colleagues at a press conference outside the U.S. Capitol to discuss the bill.
“America does not suffer from scarcity, we suffer from greed,” Omar said. “So we can ask speculators on Wall Street to pay a small financial transaction tax, which would fully fund student loan forgiveness over ten years. The American people bailed out Wall Street. It’s time for Wall Street to bail out the American people.”
According to a press release from Omar’s office, the $2.2 trillion cost of the bill would be paid for entirely by a tax on Wall Street speculation. The bill would impose a tax of 0.5 percent on stock trades, a 0.1 percent tax on bonds, and a 0.005 percent tax on derivatives. These taxes would raise $2.4 trillion over the next decade, Omar says.
During Monday’s press conference, Omar, Sanders, and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA-07) said they plan to introduce a separate bill, the College for All Act, which would make all public four-year colleges, community colleges, trade schools, and apprenticeship programs tuition-free.
“This is truly a revolutionary proposal which accomplishes three major goals,” said Sanders, who’s championing the bills in the Senate.
“First, in a highly competitive global economy, it makes certain that all Americans, regardless of income, can get the college education or job training they need to secure decent paying jobs by making public colleges, universities, and trade schools tuition-free and debt-free,” he continued.
“Second, in a generation hard hit by the Wall Street crash of 2008, it cancels all student debt and ends the absurdity of sentencing an entire generation to a lifetime of debt for the ‘crime’ of getting a college education. Third, it pays for these proposals by implementing a tax on Wall Street speculators,” Sanders concluded.
Omar is one of a growing number of young legislators who are paying off student loan debt.
“I am one of the 45 million people with student debt—45 million people who are held back from pursuing their dreams because of the student debt crisis,” she wrote on Twitter.
After their press conference, Sanders, Jayapal, and Omar held a Q-and-A on Facebook, which can be watched below:
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