by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) wants to forgive all Americans’ student debt, a move that would disproportionately benefit the highly educated and wealthy, data show.
Sanders’s plan, which he first announced Monday, would void or otherwise repay the combined $1.6 trillion in student debt currently held by some 45 million Americans. It would also create tuition-free public colleges and universities. Sanders said taming “Wall Street’s greed” through transaction taxes is necessary to abolish student debt. …
… Sanders’s plan, however, will end up bailing out the bankers that he blames for inequality in the United States. It would grant full forgiveness to anyone with student loan debt regardless of net worth or income. Sanders’s campaign noted that “[s]eventy-three percent of the benefits of cancelling all student debt will go to the bottom 80 percent of Americans, who are making less than $127,000 a year.” But this line has commentators on both the left and right scratching their heads.
“If Republicans stood up and said they were going to pass a $1.6 trillion tax cut exclusively for people who had already attended college or grad school, and that the biggest benefits were going to people who trained to be surgeons, democratic socialist types would probably think it was insane,” Slate’s Jordan Weissmann wrote Monday. “And yet, that’s pretty much what universal student debt relief is—at least if you look at it in isolation.”
This is all because of a simple fact: by most measures, student debt holders are better-educated and make more money than their non-debt-holding peers.*