Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Free College? Progressives Make Their Move In Both Houses Of Congress


Yesterday, 4 of our favorite members of Congress, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) unveiled their College for All Act. The gist of the legislation is that it will, once passed, eliminate tuition and fees at public colleges and universities for students from families earning up to $125,000, make community college tuition and fee-free for all and address the student debt crisis. If Trump had any political savvy at all, he'd jettison his own lame and entirely ineffective plan and jump right on this; but he doesn't and he won't.

Elizabeth Warren pointed out that "the federal government should invest in students and tackle the student loan crisis head-on. But so far, President Trump’s plan for college is focused on cutting student grants, while Republicans repeatedly vote against reducing student loan interest rates. That’s not how we build a future for this country. I’m glad to join Senator Sanders to introduce the College for All Act, which will help build opportunities for young Americans to get an education without getting crushed by student loan debt."

The SEIU, in partnering with the congressmembers behind the bill reminded Americans that "colleges and universities that used to provide a pathway to the American Dream are now becoming a road to poverty for students who find themselves saddled with debt and graduate workers and faculty who are unable to support their families on low pay. After decades of public disinvestment, colleges and universities have increasingly shifted their costs onto students through tuition and fee hikes, forcing students to take on crushing debt to pursue their education. At the same time both public and private institutions have become dependent on contingent academic labor and low-wage students and staff. SEIU members are proud to support this visionary bill which would ensure that higher education institutions are living up to their mission to provide a public good. The College for All Act will restore the promise of higher education by:
Offering free community college tuition to all students; and
Eliminating undergraduate tuition and fees at public colleges and universities for students from families making up to $125,000 a year; and
Increasing full-time instructional faculty; and
Compensating part-time faculty for work done outside of the classroom; and
Providing all faculty with tools they need to support student success, like professional development opportunities, office space, and shared governance in the institution.
Pramila tried explaining to her Seattle constituents how this gets paid for: "During the financial crisis," she said, "Wall Street received the largest taxpayer bailout in the history of the world. Now, it’s Wall Street’s turn to pay their fair share and chip in to help rebuild the disappearing middle class. The cost of the College for All Act would be paid for by a separate bill to tax Wall Street speculation. We would simply add a small tax of just 0.5% on stock trades (that’s just 50 cents for every $100 worth of stock), a 0.1% fee on bonds, and a 0.005% fee on derivatives, we would raise at least $600 billion over the next decade. Some 40 countries have already imposed a similar financial transactions tax, including Britain, Germany, France, Switzerland, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Brazil. This small and simple investment in our young people will pay dividends in generations to come. We’ll have a better-educated workforce that’s driving our economy forward with jobs of the 21st century... Together we’ll ensure that Americans are better equipped to compete in our global economy."

The press release from Bernie Senate office emphasized his main point, namely that "Higher education in America should be a right for all, not a privilege for the few. If we are to succeed in a highly competitive global economy and have the best-educated workforce in the world, public colleges and universities must become tuition-free for working families and we must substantially reduce student debt."

His release quoted Pramila as well: "Our young people are forced to make untenable choices: going to college and taking on mountains of debt, or foregoing their college degree to work part-time or minimum wage jobs that simply won’t allow them to build a future,. The College for All Act renews our compact with our young people-- and really, with our future. We’re going to piece back together the broken promises of a broken American Dream, and give back hope and opportunity to the middle class and working families across this country."

Original cosponsors in the Senate are Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and in the House: Bobby Scott (D-VA), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), Rick Nolan (D-MN), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), John Conyers (D-MI), Peter Welch (D-VT), Mark Pocan (D-WI), David Cicilline (D-RI) and Jamie Raskin (D-MD). No Republicans, no Blue Dogs, no New Dems. The bill has also been endorsed by the United States Students Association, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, the American Association of University Professors, the Asian American & Pacific Island Association of Colleges and Universities, the Service Employees International Union, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the National Nurses United and several other organizations.

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At 1:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is fantastic. This is how people used to talk about education in this country. Then there were decades of attacks on it. Common human decency apparently can't be eliminated. Good to know.

At 8:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't allow yourself to get excited, ekstase. This is what the Ds do when they're irrelevant.
They propose this shit, knowing it will never reach the floor for a vote and also knowing that if they ever get a majority in either chamber, it'll never be resubmitted. We have no SP nor PO today because they were spiked by democraps during the ACA performances in 2009-10. We got a half-loaf that were 1/3 tax cuts for the rich instead of the 1.5T we needed. And banks did not get broken up nor did anyone guilty of the $20T in fraud go to jail. Torture didn't end, g'itmo didn't close and wars didn't end. And SSI cuts were proposed.

See how this works now?


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