A group of progressive lawmakers led by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) released a plan Wednesday to make college free for most American families, paid for by new taxes on investors.
The legislation, called the College for All Act, would eliminate tuition at community colleges and allow students from households earning less than $125,000 per year to attend public universities at no cost. It would also double the Pell Grant maximum to nearly $13,000, up from the current $6,495, and increase funding for historically Black colleges and universities, among other things.
The costs of the proposal are to be covered by new taxes on Wall Street trading. A separate bill released Wednesday, called the Tax on Wall Street Speculation Act, calls for a tax of 0.5% on stock trades, a 0.1% tax on bond trades, and a 0.005% tax on derivative trades. The taxes could raise as much as $2.4 trillion over 10 years, the bill’s backers say, while also reducing excessive trading. Critics argue the tax proposal offers something of a contradiction, since if it reduces trading activity, it will also reduce the revenues it generates.
Sanders and Jayapal have introduced similar measures before, Roll Call notes, but this is the first time Democrats have controlled the Senate when they’ve done so. President Biden has endorsed some parts of the proposal in the past, but not the whole package.