Grassley says Sanders’ college debt bill doesn’t accomplish goal

WASHINGTON — As one of his colleagues proposes wiping out all college debt for 45-million Americans, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley asks — where will that end? Wipe out all home mortgages?

Grassley, a Republican, says the legislation offered by Democrat Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who’s running for president, is at first glance impractical, and upon closer inspection, contrary to what Sanders is fighting for.

“I would be surprised about a very liberal person like Sanders that’s always complaining about the one-percent wealthy, the billionaires,” Grassley says. “This would benefit the rich and middle class the most and not necessarily helping those that he’s trying to help.”

Grassley says his own legislation would tackle the problem Sanders is trying to address. Iowa’s senior senator says he met a few years ago with then-University of Iowa president Sally Mason, who detailed how the average U-I student was graduating with $29,000 in debt.

“The federal government is encouraging people to get in debt by a law that says you have to tell kids the maximum amount they can borrow, so presumably, they do,” Grassley says. “My ‘Know Before You Owe’ bill would do away with that requirement.” Under that measure, Grassley says students would only be encouraged to borrow what they’d need for tuition, books, fees, and room and board — and not the thousands of dollars more.

“There’s a lot of debt that’s freely taken because people choose to do it, people choose to go to college,” Grassley says. “I think we all understand that you probably appreciate a little more your education if you’ve got some skin in the game.”

Sanders’ bill, called the College For All Act, would wipe out $1.6 billion in debt. The rationale is, without that debt, college graduates could spend their earnings on other things — like houses — that would stimulate the economy.

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