The 2020 Presidential Election will be a significant event in Aggieland, like elsewhere across the country. With an average approval rating of 40 percent, it is clear that President Trump’s tenure has been especially divisive, to speak euphemistically. Therefore, the upcoming election will determine if the nation continues on this path. With three candidates leading the polls for the Democratic nomination for President — Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren — Texas A&M Democrats have a difficult choice ahead. As members of A&M, the most crucial metric for evaluating the frontrunners should first and foremost be their ideas for higher education reform. They should also scrutinize the candidates’ policies on global warming because ignoring the climate crisis would have significant consequences for our generation, particularly.
Warren has already published the “Student Loan Debt Relief Act,” her plan for revamping college education. To combat the student debt crisis, Warren would forgive up to $50,000 for people earning less than $100,000 per year and give reduced aid to those making $100,000 to $250,000 annually. Moreover, she would eliminate tuition at public institutions, so future generations of students do not incur crippling college debt.
Of course, covering college tuition and forgiving debt carries large price tags. Warren’s plan would cost about $1.25 trillion over ten years. To pay for her proposal, Warren would place a two percent tax on households earning $50 million and three percent for billionaires. Some economists estimate that Warren’s plan would raise $2.75 trillion over ten years, more than twice the funding she needs.
Sanders’ supporters contend that his plan is superior because it forgives all student loan debt for 45 million Americans. It also eliminates tuition at all public universities. The proposed program would end up costing $2.2 trillion — paid for by stock and bond taxes which would raise $2.4 trillion. Warren’s plan may seem like “diet Bernie,” but it nonetheless aids 95 percent of people with loans, erasing debt for 75% of debtors. Most importantly, Warren is generating more money for a cheaper policy. This framework allows her to cover unexpected costs, account for lower tax revenue or allocate excess funds to other initiatives — all without cutting into the federal budget.
Biden has not officially released a higher education plan but has suggested providing two years of community college and reducing monthly loan payments. While nothing is detailed yet, Warren’s policy does more than Biden’s talking points while remaining affordable.
On climate change, Warren is proposing several plans. These include the Green Apollo Program, the Green Industrial Mobilization and the Green Marshall Plan. Collectively, these initiatives would allocate $400 billion in clean energy research, $1.5 trillion to government purchases of green technology and export American products, respectively. Additionally, Warren would commit $3 trillion in transitioning workers into green manufacturing, working towards zero-emissions and implementing sustainable infrastructure. Lastly, she would invest several billion dollars into making the military eco-friendly, paying for all of her initiatives by reversing Trump-era tax cuts.
Sanders would commit $16.3 trillion to implement emission standards, encourage eco-friendly farming and transition workers away from fossil fuel industries. Sanders’ supporters will argue that Warren is too passive in policy and funding to fight climate change. However, her strategy is better because she splits her plan into different initiatives instead of having one overlapping idea. She integrates climate change elements within other proposals — like international trade, military reform and workers’ rights. This strategy has the potential to make her vision for America more practical than Sanders’ plan. Because Warren’s approach is cheaper and less aggressive, the policies are easier to finance and implement, making her more likely to pass reforms through Congress.
Biden’s platform echoes much of the Green New Deal, but he commits less money than Warren. He is instead advocating for $1.7 trillion in government funding and calling on the U.S. to reenter the Paris Climate Accords, rebuild infrastructure and develop more eco-friendly transportation. Biden has described his plan as the “middle ground” — which indicates he is less aggressive in policy. However, the IPCC and U.N. have suggested we need rapid changes to prevent irreversible change. Moreover, Biden’s proposal does not put forth the funding or changes required to fundamentally transition the U.S. off of fossil fuels like Warren.
The reason Warren should claim the nomination is that she is the most pragmatic candidate. She may not have the ambition that Sanders’ has with his policies. However, Warren’s plans have more significant funding, lower costs and are more straightforward. While Biden is committing less money and is proposing less controversial policies, he does not adequately address the most significant issues facing students. Therefore, I will be casting my ballot for Warren, and I urge everyone else who opposes the president to do the same.