Bernie Says We Should Cancel Student Debt – Because Women Are the Ones Who Borrowed Most of It

Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday made his campaign to cancel student debt a feminist issue. 

The Democratic presidential hopeful from Vermont pointed out that women hold the overwhelming majority of the United States’ $1.6 trillion in student loan debt.

“Almost two-thirds of all student debt—nearly $929 billion—in the U.S. is held by women. #CancelStudentDebt,” Sanders tweeted.

Earlier in the day, Sanders unveiled a plan to cancel all $1.6 trillion of the student loan debt owed by American borrowers.

His proposal echoes that of fellow progressive 2020 candidate, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat. Warren’s $640 billion plan is less sweeping: It would cap student loan forgiveness at $50,000 for anyone making less than $100,000 a year.

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But both plans would be financed with a tax on the country’s wealthiest 1 percent of Americans.

A woman’s right to choose not to repay student debt?

The American Association of University Women has lobbied to make the student loan crisis a women’s issue. An analysis published by the group in 2017 found that women tend to take on more debt and cited the controversial “gender pay gap” as an obstacle to them being able to pay off their student loans.

“Though the class of 2019 includes a record number of women graduating into one of the strongest job markets, the overall picture isn’t quite so bright,” said Kim Churches, the AAUW’s CEO, in a May press release. “Many women will begin their careers earning less — and owing more — than their male counterparts, and that sets them up for a lifetime of economic insecurity. It makes it harder for them to buy a home, start a business, save for retirement — and provide for their families. Isn’t it time to address these gender imbalances once and for all?”

Conservatives have largely opposed student loan absolution on principled grounds. But Sanders’ plan met with a lukewarm reception even among fellow liberals, who argued that it does little to address the root cause of the problem.

Jordan Weismann, Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent, made the lefty case against forgiving all student loan debt in an essay entitled “Bernie Sanders Wants to Forgive All Student Debt. His Plan Doesn’t Make a Lot of Sense.”

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“The problem with Sanders’ approach is that while it would forgive a lot of graduate school debt sitting on the books today, it does little to address the problem of graduate school debt going forward,” Weismann argued. “His bill would cap interest rates on all student loans at 1.88 percent which, sure, would be helpful. But it wouldn’t lessen the amount students need to borrow in the first place, and that’s the more serious issue.”

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