Sunday, October 18, 2015

Hillary Clinton is not offering Free or Cheap College Tuition

Sanders vs. Clinton: Who Has the Best Plan for America’s College Students

From Bernie Sanders' website: "Sanders vs. Clinton: Who Has the Best Plan for America’s College Students?"

  • The Sanders plan provides tuition-free public higher education to every qualified student. The Clinton plan does not.
  • The Clinton approach is unnecessarily complicated.
  • The Clinton plan holds political risk.
  • The Clinton plan also requires middle-class students to work as well as study, something their wealthier peers won’t be required to do.
  • The Clinton plan doesn’t ask enough of the rich. It places a financial burden on the middle class instead.
  • The Clinton plan is not a “no debt” program.
  • The Sanders plan is a mainstream, practical and smart proposal.

That's why college students should ♥ Bernie Sanders in 2016.

During the first Democratic primary debate, the CNN moderator Dana Bash asked Senator Bernie Sanders: "Secretary Clinton has criticized that in saying she’s not in favor of making a college free for Donald Trump’s kids. Do you think taxpayers should pick up the tab for wealthy children?"

Sanders said: "Well, let me tell you, Donald Trump and his billionaire friends under my policies are going to pay a hell of a lot more in taxes today — taxes in the future than they’re paying today."

Then later he explains: "I pay for my [college tuition] program through a tax on Wall Street speculation, which will not only make public colleges and universities tuition-free, it will substantially lower interest rates on college debt."

According to a very good in-depth examination of the tax debate in one New York Times article, there are other ways to raise tax revenues: by eliminating loopholes that mostly the very wealthy enjoy, such as eliminating the preferential rates on capital gains and dividends. This would generate $1.34 trillion over the next 10 years. Also, eliminating the tax loophole that allows people to avoid capital gains taxes on inherited assets would generate $644 billion over a 10-year period. Also, ending the deferral on corporate profits kept overseas — “the biggest corporate loophole” — which would generate $900 billion over 10 years (all according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office).

According to the Tax Policy Center, the top 1 percent is made up of 1.13 million households with average incomes of $2.1 million a year. The Times article estimates that increasing those households’ total tax burden from roughly 33% today to 40% would raise an additional $157 billion in revenue per year. To put that in perspective, Sanders’ plan to cover the cost of undergraduate tuition at a public college or university would cost $47 billion. However, Sanders intends to pay for his college plan by taxing financial transactions. And another New York Times article make a good case for doing just that — taxing the Wall Street speculators that Bernie mentioned:

"A small excise tax, a few hundredths of a one percent, on the trades of stocks, bonds, derivatives and other securities. An itty-bitty, one-basis-point transaction tax (a basis point is one-hundredth of a percentage point, or 0.01 percent) would raise $185 billion over 10 years, according to new estimates by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. That would be enough to finance an ambitious expansion of pre-kindergarten programs for 3- and 4-year-olds and restore funding of college assistance for low-income students ... As you’d expect, the financial transaction tax would be highly progressive, another selling point given our era of high and growing inequality. According to the Tax Policy Center, 75 percent of the liability from the tax would fall on the top fifth of taxpayers, and 40 percent on the top 1 percent. The tax would also fall more on high-volume traders than on long-term investors."

In another New York Times article they write: "Hillary Rodham Clinton has now followed Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley in calling for a tax on the traders who, they complain, use their high-speed computers and expensive data lines to pick the pockets of ordinary investors."

I've noted this same thing in another post — about how Hillary has followed Bernie on other issues, such as the TPP trade deal, the Keystone pipeline, prescription drug prices, the Cadillac Tax, same-sex marriage — and now a financial transaction tax and a plan for college tuitions. I suspect that every "progressive" idea Hillary has, she got from Senator Elizabeth Warren in their secret meeting together last year at Clinton's mansion — even though the former READY FOR WARREN group now formally endorses Bernie Sanders. And everybody has been wondering: Why hasn't Warren already publicly endorsed Sanders? Is it because of some inside political strategy that's going on behind-the-scenes?]

And Bernie Sanders should have also noted (despite Hillary's wild claim) that Donald Trump's children wouldn't be getting free college, because like other government programs, it could be subjected to "means-testing" — a method for determining whether someone qualifies for a financial-assistance program (such as food stamps). But of course, Hillary knew that.

Here's what Hillary Clinton said of her college plan: "40 million Americans who currently have student debt will be able to refinance their debt to a low interest rate ... My plan would enable anyone to go to a public college or university tuition free. You would not have to borrow money for tuition." [Really?]

But then Hillary goes on to say: "I think it’s important for everybody to have some part of getting this accomplished. That’s why I call it a compact. I would like students to work 10 hours a week in order to make it possible for them to afford their education. And I want colleges to get their costs down. They are outrageously high in what they’re charging."

To me, I find some of these statements a little contradictory: If tuition is free, then what debt does one have, and if no debt, why would there be a need for lower interest rates? Would it be debt for books, pencils and college dorms? Also:

  1. She doesn't say how she would the reduce the interest rate on current college loans except for refinancing. What if the Fed raises interest rates?
  2. She doesn't say how she'd make public college or university tuition free, because she won't. Bernie Sanders does so with a financial transaction tax on billionaires.
  3. She doesn't say how she can get colleges to get their costs down. Will she twist their arms? Threaten them with a tax increase? Point her finger at them and call them nasty names?

Besides, she can't do anything that a majority in Congress wasn't also on board with — just as if Bernie Sanders were elected.

Also, Hillary's "compact" seems to be an agreement that stipulates that, only if a college student works at least 10 hours a week (providing an employer will even hire them and allow them to work only 10 hours a week and to work around their scheduled classes), they will get a lower interest rate on college loans. But at what rate? And why, if it's "free"? But overall, this also sounds like a very top-heavy bureaucratic plan that will cost a lot of money to implement and administer. [But I'm just a layman on the subject, so what do I know?]

According to her website, this is Hillary Clinton's plan for college tuition:

"Students at community college will receive free tuition." [But then she says...] "Students will do their part by contributing their earnings from working 10 hours a week. Families will do their part by making an affordable and realistic family contribution." [This sounds like means-testing, but only if the student also contributes.]

"The federal government will provide grants to states that commit to these goals, and by cutting interest rates on loans [and] meet their obligation to invest in higher education by maintaining current levels of higher education funding and reinvesting over time." [This sounds like we're relying on the States to co-operate, like they didn't with Obamacare and expanding Medicaid.]

"If you have student debt, you will be able to refinance your loans at current rates. For future undergraduates, everyone will be able to enroll in a simplified, income-based repayment program so that borrowers never have to pay more than 10 percent of what they make." [Does she mean students won't have to pay more than 10% if they work at least 10 hours a week?]

Here's Senator Bernie Sanders' plan for college tuition — please take the time to compare the details of his to the details of hers — and then you'll vote for Bernie.

BELOW: Watch Bernie Sanders tearing up the rug on The Ellen Degeneres Show. The soundtrack in this video is from one of the "Feel the Bern" songs. The original song was "Disco Inferno" by the Trammps (Burn, Baby, Burn)

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