WASHINGTON – A proposal by 2020 presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders to cancel the estimated $1.6 trillion in student loan debt accumulated by U.S. college students, if implemented, would set in motion a slippery slope, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee said Tuesday.
“I don’t know where it ends,” Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) told TMN.
He added: “Will this sort of thing, kind of ask people that have debt on their house to be relieved, and a lot of other debt? Once you start down that road, I don’t where you end up.”
Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), who sits on Grassley’s committee, said the proposal is fiscally irresponsible.
“How much is it gonna cost?”
When asked what canceling the debt would mean for people who have already repaid their loans, Scott said: “Private schools. Public schools. Harvard. Charleston Southern. When you add it all up, the question is: ‘How in the world do you make sense of something that doesn’t make sense?’ ”
Sanders (I-Vt.) unveiled the proposal at a news conference on Capitol Hill on Monday.
“The American people bailed out Wall Street. Now it is time for Wall Street to come to the aid of the middle-class of this country,” he said.
Sanders said the plan would be funded by a tax on Wall Street “speculation” that would raise $2.4 trillion over the next decade.
The plan proposes a 0.5% tax on stock trades, a 0.1% fee on bond trades and a 0.005% fee on derivative trades.
The money would be used to pay for universal higher education and is part of Sanders’ plan to make public colleges and universities free of charge.
Many industrialized countries, such as Germany, Britain, and France, have instituted similar policies to pay for higher education.
Fellow Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) has introduced a proposal that would allow students from families whose household income does not exceed $100,000 to erase up to $50,000 in debt.