Elizabeth Warren wants to cancel part or all student loan debt for 95 percent of Americans and make public college free for everyone—the latest, and perhaps most ambitious, policy proposal for the 2020 Democratic contender.
Warren announced the policy in a Medium post Monday morning.
The Massachusetts Democrat told readers that her own past as a waitress who was able to attend public college due to the school's low cost is now unattainable for most Americans.
But Warren aims to change that.
"The first step in addressing this crisis is to deal head-on with the outstanding debt that is weighing down millions of families and should never have been required in the first place," wrote Warren. "That's why I'm calling for something truly transformational — the cancellation of up to $50,000 in student loan debt for 42 million Americans."
run my student debt over, liz warren— elim garak appreciator (@onesarahjones) April 22, 2019
Warren, in a fundraising email to supporters, said that the policy's goals writ large aimed at righting past wrongs.
"My plan for universal free college would give every American the opportunity to attend a two-year or four-year public college without paying a dime in tuition or fees," said Warren. "And we'll make free college truly universal—not just in theory, but in practice—by making higher education of all kinds more inclusive and available to every single American, especially lower-income, Black, and Latinx students, without the need to take on debt to cover costs. Free tuition, and zero debt at graduation."
one of the most interesting things about warren's student loan/free college plan is its specific focus on racial inequality pic.twitter.com/mfILTW2eGU— b-boy bouiebaisse (@jbouie) April 22, 2019
That will also take public investment, said The New York Times's Astead W. Herndon.
Ms. Warren's sweeping plan has several planks.... In addition to eliminating undergraduate tuition at public colleges and universities, she would expand federal grants to help students with nontuition expenses and create a $50 billion fund to support historically black colleges and universities.
Estimates put the cost of the program at around $1.25 trillion.
The education overhaul would be paid for, Warren told Herndon, by less than half of a decade's worth of her Ultra-Millionaire Tax — a 2 percent annual tax on the 75,000 families with $50 million or more in wealth.
Warren's wealth tax would generate $2.75 trillion over a decade, leaving $1.5 trillion available for her other proposed transformative social policies, like protecting public lands from exploitation and universal childcare and pre-k.
In an interview aired Monday, Warren told CNN's M.J. Lee that her program goes further than the free college plan put forward by her 2020 primary rival Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
"It covers more and it addresses both the access question of going to college and the problem of the debt burden for our students," said Warren.
Elizabeth Warren told me in our sitdown that her new proposal is "bigger" and "goes further" than Bernie Sanders' free college legislation -- "It covers more and it addresses both the access question of going to college and the problem of the debt burden for our students." pic.twitter.com/ZrMRzC1jAV— MJ Lee (@mj_lee) April 22, 2019
Sanders and Warren are competing for left-wing Democratic votes and both have put forward ambitious proposals on the environment, taxes, healthcare, and, now, education.
The Nation community editor Annie Shields said she was excited not only by the proposal but by how Warren made the case to CNN's Lee.
"This is a really exciting proposal and I'm really impressed with how Warren sells it in this segment," said Shields.
This is a really exciting proposal and I'm really impressed with how Warren sells it in this segment. https://t.co/L5vC8Hh4lQ— Annie Shields (@anastasiakeeley) April 22, 2019
Initial reaction from progressives to Warren's plan was positive, though the Massachusetts Democrat's low polling numbers in the crowded primary continue to baffle many on the left.
"If we're talking primary candidates whose policies would affect the material conditions of the working class, Warren is the way ahead of the game here," said journalist Andray Domise.
If we're talking primary candidates whose policies would affect the material conditions of the working class, Warren is the way ahead of the game here. https://t.co/LHmoiCj2k1— Andray (@andraydomise) April 22, 2019
"Warren is consistently offering substantive policies (let's see if folks will actually evaluate them)," tweeted activist Mariame Kaba.
This is test for all of the people who are always bleating about wanting *substance* re: domestic policies during campaigns. I never believe them so let's see... Warren is consistently offering substantive policies (let's see if folks will actually evaluate them). https://t.co/X71HuZHhTJ— Prison Culture Returns (@prisonculture) April 22, 2019
"How Warren is polling below *Joe freaking Biden* baffles me," said Right Wing Watch's Jared Holt.
How Warren is polling below *Joe freaking Biden* baffles me https://t.co/Kb07Fg8tha— Jared Holt (@jaredlholt) April 22, 2019
"Elizabeth Warren is pushing out some great policy proposals," said Arnesa Buljušmić-Kustura. "I feel like she's been really minimized so far and I hope people start paying attention."
Elizabeth Warren is pushing out some great policy proposals. I feel like she’s been really minimised so far and I hope people start paying attention.— Arnesa Buljušmić-Kustura (@Rrrrnessa) April 22, 2019