Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) laid out a new plan that would tax millionaires and use that revenue to help students refinance their student loans.
Delivering the keynote address at the Higher Ed Not Debt Campaign launch event on Thursday at the Center For American Progress, Warren argued that America faces a choice: “Do we invest in students, or millionaires?” Warren plans to introduce a bill that would create an “America that invests in those who get an education” by revising the tax code and enacting the Buffet rule. Watch it:
The Buffet rule is named after billionaire Warren Buffet and would establish a minimum tax on income in excess of $1 million. The measure, which never got out of Congress, raises approximately $50 billion in revenue and ensures that millionaires do not pay lower tax rates than middle-class families.
Congress acted to lower the federal unsubsidized student loan interest rate to 3.86 percent for undergraduates for the 2012-2013 academic school year. But unless it acts again, the $1.2 trillion in outstanding student loan debt will continue to grow.
Warren’s plan would allow students with outstanding student loans to refinance at lower rates. The cost of the change would be covered by a “dollar for dollar” effort where for “every dollar the Buffet rule brings in, we use that dollar to refinance student loan debt,” she explained. She estimated that recent graduates who borrowed the maximum in undergraduate loans could see their payments drop by $1,000 a year and total interest paid over the life of the loan could be cut nearly in half. Students with graduate loans or borrowers from private lenders would save even more, Warren projected.
If the Buffet rule exceeds its expected revenue, then the plan would call for lowering the interest rates even further. All college graduates still repaying federal student loans would have the option to refinance to a lower rate, saving graduates thousands of dollars per year.
This post has been updated to more accurately reflect Warren’s proposal.