Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is floating the idea that government largesse should allow students to graduate from four-year colleges with no loan debt in an attempt to lure college-age and twentysomething people to vote for her.
“What voters are looking for in this election is someone who is going to be a champion for everyday people,” Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook told CNBC on Wednesday, according to MarketWatch
“For young people, that’s debt-free college, that is finding that job after you graduate,” the “Hillary for America” chief strategist and Ivy League graduate explained.
Clinton, 67, has been vague and coy about her debt-free college plan. At the same time, Mook insinuated, Clinton strategists expect that college students may be reluctant to vote for the senior citizen without more incentive. (RELATED: Senior Citizen Hillary Clinton Aims To Lock Down College Vote In 2016.
As Bloomberg observed on Friday, the notion of college without debt as any sort of real political possibility is a new development. A group called the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (Boldprogressives.org) has been pushing the new welfare benefit only since January.
Leaders of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee believe that depressed turnout among Democrats in the 2014 election was due to a shortage of audaciously progressive ideas — not enough hope and change, if you will.
Polling showed that agitation about reducing out-of-control college costs is the issue that Democratic voters retrospectively say would have moved them most to vote in 2014, group spokesman TJ Helmstetter told Bloomberg.
Boldprogressives.org promotes a host of other causes in addition to debt-free college including higher taxes, comprehensive Internet regulation and a constitutional amendment limiting political campaign speech.
“I’m hopeful that debt-free college is the next big idea,” Senator Chuck Schumer has said, according to the group’s website.
Socialist Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, a senator from Vermont, and presumed candidate Martin O’Malley of Maryland have also endorsed the idea of debt-free college to some degree.
According to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, America’s collective student loan debt is currently $1.16 trillion, which amounts to $28,400 for each college graduate. (RELATED: Obama Throws A Bone To Americans Crushed With Student Loans)
As The Washington Post’s Wonkblog observes, the people most likely to benefit from any debt-free college scheme are wealthy and upper middle-class college students and their parents.
About 40 percent of all Americans held any sort of degree beyond a high school diploma (two-year degree, four-year degree, etc.). That 40 percent corresponds very closely with the percentage of Americans in the top 40 percent of income distribution in the United States.
Thus, the criticism goes, debt-free college is likely to be an income perk for rich people who, to whatever extent they need or want income perks, are already considerably better off than all the poor people below them on the economic ladder.
A debt-free college plan involving private colleges and universities could also subsidize a multitude of schools with endowments larger than the annual gross-domestic products of many underdeveloped nations. (RELATED: Meet The One Percent Of American Colleges And Universities.
Clinton has said she will explain the details of her debt-free college plan “in the months ahead,” according to MarketWatch.