Progressive legislation would tax Wall Street to pay for free college and eliminate student debt

"We bailed out Wall Street in 2008. It's time to tax Wall Street's greed to help the American people."

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Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) have an unprecedented plan to eliminate student debt and provide free public college for everyone: tax Wall Street.

This week the three Senators unveiled new legislation “eliminate tuition and fees at all public four-year colleges and universities, as well as make community colleges, trade schools, and apprenticeship programs tuition- and fee-free for all.” Futhermore, the legislation also calls for the elimination of the $1.6 trillion in student debt for all Americans, not just those that qualify under certain conditions.

“This is truly a revolutionary proposal which accomplishes three major goals,” said Sanders. “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.”

The Student Debt Cancellation Act and the College for All Act would finance this bold new agenda by implementing a tax on Wall Street speculators, including a 0.1 percent tax on bonds anda 0.5 percent tax on stock transactions. According to Sanders, this tax on Wall Street would generate more than $2 trillion over 10 years.

“There is a crisis in higher education at a time when a postsecondary degree is more important than ever,” said Jayapal. “A college degree should be a right for all, not a privilege for the few.

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“In a generation hard hit by the Wall Street crash of 2008,” Sanders said, “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. In 2008, the American people bailed out Wall Street. Now, it is Wall Street’s turn to help the middle class and working class of this country.”

Watch Jayapal, Omar, and Sanders unveil the new legislation and answer questions below:

“We bailed out Wall Street in 2008. It’s time to tax Wall Street’s greed to help the American people,” tweeted Sanders over the weekend.

“There are currently 45 million Americans with student debt,” said Omar. “That’s 45 million people who are being held back from purchasing their first home; 45 million people who may feel that they can’t start a family; 45 million people who have dreams of opening a business or going into public service, but are held back.” 

Read a fact sheet on College For All here.

Read the legislative text here.

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