In the lead-up to CNN's presidential town hall tonight, M.J. Lee interviewed Elizabeth Warren about her ambitious new education plan. She talked about it to Alysin Camerota:
"Alisyn, Elizabeth Warren made a huge splash when she called on the House to begin impeachment proceedings against President Trump," she said. "Aides at the time said do not expect impeachment to be the central theme of her campaign going forward, that she plans to remain focused on policy. We are seeing the first real sign of that this morning, Elizabeth Warren putting out a major student loans and free college proposal.
"Senator Elizabeth Warren out with a sweeping new proposal to wipe clean millions of Americans' student loan debt and overhaul the country's higher education system. The Massachusetts Democrat dropping the ambitious plan ahead of CNN's five-candidate young voter town hall in New Hampshire."
WARREN: Anyone who has outstanding student loan debt can have up to $50,000 worth of student loan debt canceled out so long as their income is under $100,000, and then it steps in up to there's no help for anybody whose family income is above $250,000. That's it. The debt is gone.
LEE: The proposal would make all public colleges tuition- and fee-free, inject $100 billion in Pell grants over ten years and create a $50 billion fund for historically black colleges and other minority-serving institutions.
WARREN: There's a real access problem for low-income students, for students of color, and that is, it's not just paying the tuition. It's how they pay for books. It's how they pay for the expenses of having a baby taken care of the they already have a child at home or being able to to live in a dorm.
"Her campaign puts the total cost of the proposal at $1.25 trillion, all paid for by her wealth tax," Lee explained.
Warren said the proposal would be paid for by her wealth tax.
WARREN: I got the scholarship. I dropped out. I got married at 19 and I took a job answering phones, and I thought that was going to be my whole life. The fact that there was a commuter college about 45 minutes away that I could pay for on a part-time waitressing job, it opened a door, and that was my chance.
"You are already a co-sponsor of Bernie Sanders' free college bill. How is your plan better than that plan?"
"Well, it goes further."
Mayor Pete Buddigieg didn't warm to the idea.
"Americans who have a college degree earn more than Americans who don't. As a progressive, I have a hard time getting my head around the idea -- expecting someone to pay zero."
"Do you agree with his analysis?" Lee said.
"No. I think the way we build a future where everyone has a chance, we start out by investing in their education," Warren said.
Student debt is a massive drag on the economy, especially since the bankruptcy "reform" that took school loans off the table. This is a great proposal. And what Buddigeieg doesn't seem to realize is how many of those loans are being paid off by people who dropped out. So they have the burden of student debt without the economic boost of a college degree.