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2020 Dems making big, costly promises on student loan forgiveness

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2020 Dems making big, costly promises on student loan forgiveness

The Democratic presidential candidates’ costly plans for universal health care dominated the Detroit debates — but their plans for tackling the costs of higher education are every bit as ambitious, and controversial, even if they don’t prompt the same on-stage fireworks as the “Medicare-for-all” divide.

The college debt question is quickly becoming a defining issue for Democratic candidates. As with health care, they have a wide range of proposals – from completely wiping out the roughly $1.5 trillion in student loan debt to expanding grants to low-income students to making public college tuition-free. Moreover, many of the plans are wildly expensive and prompting serious debate over whether the solutions are practical for dealing with costs that lawmakers across the political spectrum agree are sky-high.

SANDERS CALLS FOR WIPING OUT $1.6 TRILLION IN STUDENT DEBT BY TAXING WALL STREET

“The big issue is the cost of a college education,” Michael Lux, a student loan expert and the founder of the Student Loan Sherpa, told Fox News. “Any plan addressing student loans needs to also address the rising cost of higher education.”

The two Democratic candidates with the most sweeping proposals for dealing with student loans are Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who have both outlined plans to wipe out the debt accrued by college students through tax hikes for certain individuals and transactions.

Warren was the first Democratic candidate to propose a radical restructuring of how the country deals with student debt – unveiling a plan in April that would eliminate almost all student loan debt for 42 million Americans by canceling $50,000 in debt for each person with household income under $100,000. The Massachusetts senator’s plan would allow borrowers with a household income between $100,000 and $250,000 to be eligible for some debt cancellation, although not the full $50,000, while borrowers with a household income of $250,000 or more would not be eligible.

Warren also has proposed eliminating tuition and fees for two- and four-year public college degree programs along with investing $100 billion in Pell Grants, a federal aid program that requires no payback. The plan would also create a fund with a minimum of $50 billion intended to keep per-student spending at historically black colleges and universities and minority-serving institutions comparable to other area colleges.

Warren said earlier this year that her plan would be “more than covered by my Ultra-Millionaire Tax — a two percent annual tax on the 75,000 families with $50 million or more in wealth.”

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Under Sanders’ plan, which was unveiled in June, all student debt would be eliminated – no matter how much money a household makes – and students from families with incomes of $25,000 or less would have all of their college costs covered. Sanders’ proposal would also make public colleges tuition-free. The full cost of the plans is estimated to run around $2.2 trillion.

The plan would be paid for with a tax on stock trades, bonds, derivatives and other types of investments. According to Sanders’ calculations, the plan would save the average borrower $3,000 a year and allow millennials – the group hardest hit by rising college costs – to invest in big-ticket items like homes and automobiles.

“This is truly a revolutionary proposal,” Sanders said in a statement. “In a generation hard hit by the Wall Street crash of 2008, it forgives all student debt and ends the absurdity of sentencing an entire generation to a lifetime of debt for the ‘crime’ of getting a college education.”

A House version of Sanders’ College for All Act was co-sponsored by fellow Democratic presidential primary candidate, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii.

Proposals such as those by Warren and Sanders have rankled borrowers who have already gone through the trouble of paying off their student loans, while others argue that the plans penalize those who didn’t go to overpriced schools.

Former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer quipped after Sanders pitched his plan that it should be “retroactive.”

Republicans and even some Democrats have questioned how the government would pay for both debt forgiveness and free college. “I get a little bit concerned when I see attempts being made to address a specific issue and the attempts get diluted by bringing everyone into the process,” Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, the No. 3 House Democrat, told Politico earlier this year. He added that “if the money were unlimited that would be one thing, but it’s not.”

Student loan experts say that despite the cost of the plans from the two New England lawmakers, the proposals could help the country’s economy.

“There’s definitely a lot of upfront costs with these plans, but it would inject a lot of money into the economy,” Lux said. “While the proposals would directly benefit some Americans, they would indirectly benefit all Americans.”

STUDENTS, FAMILIES STRUGGLE TO REPAY BILLIONS IN CRUSHING LOAN DEBTS

While the student debt cancellation plans by Sanders and Warren are the most noteworthy proposals to come out of the large field of Democratic primary candidates, they are far from the only ones.

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., has offered up a narrower – and arguably more complicated – plan to address the student loan crisis.

Harris’ plan would give borrowers $20,000 in loan forgiveness, but there are a number of caveats to qualify. First, the money would only be available to students who received Pell Grants; second, the grant recipients would need to start a business in an economically disadvantaged area; and third, the business would have to run for at least three years.

During those three years, however, the borrower would be granted interest-free deferment – meaning they do not have to make payments and they won’t accrue interest. The program would be funded through a capital grant program.

Harris’ plan has been blasted by critics who say the program is too narrow, too restrictive and wouldn’t come close to solving the student loan debt crisis.

“We already have plenty of experience with narrowly-tailored, overly-complex student loan relief programs, and they are a mess,” Adam Minsky, an attorney who works with student loan borrowers, wrote in Forbes. “The ultimate loan forgiveness award provided by Harris’s plan is also relatively small — just about half of the average undergraduate student loan debt burden — which means that the few borrowers who do obtain the loan forgiveness award would likely still be on the look for a substantial amount of student loan debt.”

A number of other Democratic candidates – Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas – have proposed public service requirements as a way to reduce student debt and offset the costs of a college education.

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Delany has advocated for expanding programs like AmeriCorps, a federal public service program, and creating a Climate Corps, which would award participants with college scholarships.

Gillibrand has outlined a similar idea, in which the government would pay two years of community college or state school education in exchange for a year of service in a program like AmeriCorps, the Peace Corps, or Teach For America and four years of college for two years of service. The New York senator has also advocated for expanding the GI Bill to help veterans afford the cost of a higher education.

O’Rourke’s student debt plan would specifically forgive all debt for teachers who work in public schools.

Other candidates – such as primary front-runner Joe Biden, the former vice president, and Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey – have not laid out specific proposals to tackle the student loan debt crisis, but Biden has said he supports the idea of a free four-year college education while Booker has co-sponsored a bill to use federal matching grants to incentivize states to invest more money in public colleges and allow students to attend debt-free.

As for the current occupant of the Oval Office, President Trump vowed on the campaign trail in 2016 to address the issue – saying he is “very good on loans” – but his recently proposed 2020 budget would phase out a plan from the administration of President George W. Bush to offer partial student-loan forgiveness to Americans who participated in national service. Along with eliminating the public service loan forgiveness option, Trump has also proposed limiting the amount of money a student can borrow and reducing the current number of income-driven repayment plans to just one.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Trump rips New York Times over Kavanaugh piece, calls for resignation of anyone involved in ‘SMEAR story’

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Trump rips New York Times over Kavanaugh piece, calls for resignation of anyone involved in 'SMEAR story'

President Trump blasted The New York Times over its supposed bombshell report on Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, calling on “everybody” involved in the “smear” to resign.

“I call for the Resignation of everybody at The New York Times involved in the Kavanaugh SMEAR story, and while you’re at it, the Russian Witch Hunt Hoax, which is just as phony!” Trump tweeted Monday evening.

“They’ve taken the Old Grey Lady and broken her down, destroyed her virtue and ruined her reputation… She can never recover, and will never return to Greatness, under current Management. The Times is DEAD, long live The New York Times!”

NEW YORK TIMES CRITICIZED FROM BOTH SIDES OVER NOW-REVISED KAVANAUGH ALLEGATIONS

Late Sunday, The New York Times walked back an explosive report about a resurfaced allegation of sexual assault by Kavanaugh from his college days. The piece by Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, adapted from their forthcoming book, alleged there was corroboration of an incident in which Kavanaugh, as a college student at Yale, exposed himself to a female classmate at a party.

However, The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway — who reviewed an advance copy of the book – flagged an omission and the paper eventually revised the controversial story after being lampooned on social media over the gaffe.

The update included the significant detail that several friends of the alleged victim said she did not recall the purported sexual assault. The newspaper also stated for the first time that the alleged victim refused to be interviewed, and has made no other comment about the episode.

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Trump was asked about whether anyone from The Times should be “fired” over the controversy. He called it a “fair” question but didn’t directly give an answer.

“I think The New York Times made another terrible mistake,” Trump said. “It’s a shame that a thing like that could happen… They used to have a thing called fact-checking. They don’t have fact-checking anymore.”

Fox News’ Brian Flood and Gregg Re contributed to this report.

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With New Mexico rally, Trump seeks to flip state won by Clinton in 2016

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With New Mexico rally, Trump seeks to flip state won by Clinton in 2016

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump will hold one of his signature rallies on Monday night in New Mexico, a longtime Democratic stronghold his campaign has added to the list of states it hopes to win in the November 2020 election.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump holds a campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, U.S., September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

The last time New Mexico supported a Republican in a presidential race was 2004. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton beat Trump there by 8 percentage points three years ago.

Trump’s campaign sees an opening in the state with Latinos, who it believes will swing his way despite tough immigration policies, including a crackdown on migrants from Central America and a push to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.

Democrats have criticized those efforts. But a Trump campaign aide said the Republican president could win over Latinos who came to the United States legally and believe others should, too.

“Big crowd expected in New Mexico tonight, where we will WIN. Your Border Wall is getting stronger each and every day — see you in a few hours!” Trump tweeted ahead of his trip.

The campaign also views Trump’s support for the fossil fuel industry as a plus in the state, which is rich in oil and natural gas, said the campaign aide, who declined to be named. Trump is likely to discuss energy on Monday night.

Trump won the White House in 2016 with electoral votes from traditional Republican-leaning states and some surprise Democratic-leaning ones.

The Trump campaign says it wants New Mexico’s five electoral votes to augment the 306 electoral votes the president received in his first election, not create a separate path for victory. A candidate must get 270 electoral votes nationally to win.

Democrats, who did well in New Mexico during the 2018 mid-term elections, are skeptical.

“Last cycle, Democrats crushed Republicans in New Mexico because voters are fed up with President Trump’s toxic healthcare agenda and broken promises,” said David Bergstein, a communications director for the Democratic National Committee focused on battleground states.

“We take nothing for granted, but this GOP strategy looks like they’re concerned about a realistic pathway to 270 electoral votes,” he added.

Trump won electoral-vote-rich swing states such as Ohio and Florida in 2016, while also picking up Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania from Democrats.

The campaign says it is eyeing more pickups in 2020, including Colorado, New Hampshire, Minnesota and Nevada.

Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Tom Brown

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California adds Iowa to ‘travel ban’ over refusal to fund gender transitions

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California adds Iowa to 'travel ban' over refusal to fund gender transitions

California announced Monday that it has added Iowa to the list of states on its ever-expanding “travel ban” list because of that state’s new prohibition against funding gender-transition surgeries under Medicaid.

The announcement by state Attorney General Xavier Becerra means that as of Oct. 4, California will no longer offer taxpayer-funded trips to Iowa for any public employee or student at a state-run university.

Becerra’s authority came from a 2016 California law signed by then-Gov. Jerry Brown that bars state-funded travel to other states that undercut LGBT rights. The list already included Alabama, Kentucky, North Carolina, Texas, Oklahoma and Mississippi.

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Conservatives have called the law ineffective, inconveniencing, possibly unconstitutional and hypocritical. The state’s sports teams have turned to private funding to get around the restrictions, according to The Los Angeles Times.

A homeless woman smokes as she waits for city crews to clean the area near Los Angeles City Hall Monday, July 1, 2019. California is overrun with homeless individuals. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

A homeless woman smokes as she waits for city crews to clean the area near Los Angeles City Hall Monday, July 1, 2019. California is overrun with homeless individuals. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

“The Iowa Legislature has reversed course on what was settled law under the Iowa Civil Rights Act, repealing protections for those seeking gender-affirming health care,” Becerra said in a statement. “California has taken an unambiguous stand against discrimination and government actions that would enable it.”

The brouhaha began after the Iowa Supreme Court ruled in March that taxpayers could be forced to pay for gender reassignment surgery. Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a law effectively overriding that ruling two months later.

At the federal level, the Trump administration has disputed the idea that sex-based discrimination prohibitions under law include protections for gender identity. The Health and Human Services Department, in May, angered progressive advocates with rules that both allowed doctors not to perform certain operations and stated that “gender identity” was not protected under sex discrimination law in health care.

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Fox News’ Sam Dorman contributed to this report.

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