Vermont Senator and Democratic presidential candidate has released his latest plan to
bribe people into voting for him address student loan debt. The radical plan calls for the elimination of the $1.6 trillion in student loan debt across the country plus college free tuition to be paid for by a tax on Wall Street. There are multiple problems with the plan, but the one that Monday's MSNBC Live with Hallie Jackson homed on was that the plan might be seen as a betrayal of Sanders' crusade to address income inequality.
In keeping with the tradition of labeling left-wing ideas as "ambitious" and conservative ideas as "radical," Jackson introduced a clip from a recently interview Sanders had with NBC's Savannah Sellers. Sellers asked Sanders if his plan was a betrayal of his own principles: "You’re the first to point out this incredible income inequality in this country, so why create a plan that sort of gives the same help to all income levels? Why give wealthy Americans a freebie?"
Sanders replied by declaring that, "it needs to be universal, it needs to be simple. And the vast majority of people who would benefit from this program are working class people."
After the brief clip, Jackson was joined by NPR's Kelsey Snell, and The New York Times's Ken Vogel to discuss whether the universality of Sanders' plan would hurt him in the primary and concluded that it probably would not.
While taxpayer subsidization of the rich may be a concern, Sanders tries to evade criticism with his Wall Street tax, but anyone familiar with the Social Security Trust Fund should be skeptical of a tax that purports to collect revenue for a single designated purpose or how Bernie purposes to pay for all of his free stuff with a tax on the rich.
Furthermore, Sanders is currently in a battle with Elizabeth Warren, where the two senators are trying to one-up each other in terms of who can give out the most freebies to people they assume will vote for them. Finally, there is the issue of those who have paid off their student loans -- did they just spend years and tens of thousands of dollars to pay off their loans only to have a power-hungry politician promise to wipe it away for free in exchange for their vote?
MSNBC asked none of these questions, instead choosing to lament that Sanders could be betraying his own principles of fighting "this incredible income inequality."
Here is a transcript:
MSNBC Live with Hallie Jackson
June 24, 2019
10:40 a.m. Eastern
HALLIE JACKSON: If you are one of the 45 million Americans struggling with the weight, the constant unyielding pressure of debt from your student loans, imagine, like this, it's gone. That's what Senator Bernie Sanders is suggesting. Wipe it away for everyone. Every American who has the loans. It’s obviously not free, so Sanders wants to raise taxes on Wall Street to pay for the $1.6 trillion proposal. This thing is ambitious, this plan, it also includes free four-year tuition at public universities and trade schools, but already its raising questions about whether it's really fair to forgive the debt of even wealthy Americans who there would be in a better position to pay off what they owe. I want to bring in Kelsey Snell and Ken Vogel who are back with me and guys, we mentioned my colleague Savannah Sellers just finished the interview with Senator Sanders, the exclusive sit down in his office. I know she is literally running through the bowels of the Capitol to make it to a camera for us. That’s how recent this is. So I want to play for you a little bit of sound, a little bit of what Sanders said addressing the criticism that he may be in for. Watch.
SAVANNAH SELLERS: You’re the first to point out this incredible income inequality in this country, so why create a plan that sort of gives the same help to all income levels? Why give wealthy Americans a freebie?
BERNIE SANDERS: Well, because it needs to be universal, it needs to be simple. And the vast majority of people who would benefit from this program are working class people.
JACKSON: Do you find that to be a compelling argument?
KELSEY SNELL: I mean, I think a lot of people will find that to be a compelling argument. I think voters feel very strongly about this issue. And I think that for Sanders, it's about finding a new way to message that he isn't just the progressive candidate that you knew in the last election cycle. He can still compete with the other progressives who are on the ticket now. A very different field for him now.
KEN VOGEL: And if the last cycle is any indication, there will be many Democrats who come around to his position. He was so far out front on many of these things, Medicare for All, talking about income in equality, noted in that interview. And now him taking the stance that seems much more aggressive and far to the left that which we see from other Democrats. It wouldn’t surprise me to see other Democrats embrace this eventually.
JACKSON: Other Democrats have come out with their own proposals on this. Senator Elizabeth Warren, quite notably, who has their own plan to target student debt. We want aside by side comparison of how these plans shake out. Her plan would wipe out 75% of student loan debt, up to $50,000 per person, right? Sanders plan as we talked about wipes out all of it for everyone. How much of a distinction do you think that makes for voters? Do you think they care about those details? Do you think the Sanders plan is more attention grabbing and easier for folks to understand?
VOGEL: I think probably not. I think Democratic voters this time around are very far to the left and are getting very excited by the candidates who are telling them what they want to hear. It just so happens with Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren they have been there already. They are already there, so they’re meeting voters where they are.
SNELL: But, it might come down to the less likely Democratic voters, that we saw show up in 2018 in voting for Congress. People who were voting for Democrats who usually sit on the sidelines or might pick more moderate Republicans. They might find something interesting in that distinction. If they can find a way to get closer to a candidate because it's a different of 25 percent, that might be enough.
VOGEL: In a Democratic primary certainly ---
VOGEL: --- being further, having the 100% not the 75% is probably more appealing.