You Need to Know What Was Said About College Tuition During Tuesday Night's Democratic Debate
There were a ton of quotable moments during Tuesday night's first Democratic debate, which millions viewed on CNN.
The candidates talked Syria, immigration, #BlackLivesMatter, and more. And when things turned to Secretary Hillary Clinton's emails (which you knew they would), Senator Bernie Sanders had perhaps one of the biggest moments of his entire campaign when he turned to Clinton and said, "The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails!" (Yes, sir!) But our ears really perked up when the candidates were asked about their opinion on college tuition — twice — as well as paid parental leave. Sanders, Clinton, and former Governor Martin O’Malley were the only ones to comment in both cases (leaving out former Governor Lincoln Chafee and former Senator Jim Webb), but in case you're curious, here's exactly what was said:
Dana Bash, CNN’s chief political correspondent, asked: "CNN visited college campuses, along with Facebook. And not surprisingly college affordability was among the most pressing issue. Senator Sanders, you've mentioned a couple of times you do have a plan to make public colleges free for everyone. Secretary Clinton has criticized that in saying she’s not in favor of making a college free for Donald Trump's kids. Do you think taxpayers should pick up the tab for wealthy children?"
Bernie Sanders: "Well, let me tell you, Donald Trump and his billionaire friends under my policies are going to pay a hell of a lot more in taxes today — taxes in the future than they’re paying today. But in terms of education, this is what I think: This is the year 2015. A college degree today, Dana, is the equivalent of what a high school degree was 50 years ago. And what we said 50 years ago and a hundred years ago is that every kid in this country should be able to get a high school education regardless of the income of their family. I think we have to say that is true for everybody going to college. I think we don't need a complicated system, which the secretary is talking about, the income goes down, the income goes down, if you’re poor you have to work, and so forth and so on. I pay for my program, by the way, through a tax on Wall Street speculation, which will not only make public colleges and universities tuition-free, it will substantially lower interest rates on college debt, a major crisis in this country."
Bash: "And, Secretary Clinton, it's not just college tuition that Senator Sanders is talking about, expanding Social Security and giving all Americans Medicare. What's wrong with that?"
Hillary Clinton: "Well, let me address college affordability, because I have a plan that I think will really zero in on what the problems are. First, all the 40 million Americans who currently have student debt will be able to refinance their debt to a low interest rate. That will save thousands of dollars for people who are now struggling under this cumbersome, burdensome college debt. As a young student in Nevada said to me, the hardest thing about going to college should not be paying for it. So then we have to make it more affordable. How do we make it more affordable? My plan would enable anyone to go to a public college or university tuition free. You would not have to borrow money for tuition. But I do believe — and maybe it's because I worked when I went through college; I worked when I went through law school — I think it's important for everybody to have some part of getting this accomplished. That’s why I call it a compact."
Bash: "Secretary Clinton."
Clinton: "But, yes, I would like students to work 10 hours a week."
Bash: "Can you answer the…"
Clinton: "In order to make it possible for them to afford their education. And I want colleges to get their costs down. They are outrageously high in what they're charging."
Anderson Cooper, who moderated last night’s debate, asked: “Secretary Clinton, let me ask you. Two of your rivals from your left, Governor O’Malley, and Senator Sanders, want to provide instate college tuition to undocumented immigrants. Where do you stand on that?”
Hillary Clinton: "My plan would support any state that takes that position, and would work with those states and encourage more states to do the same thing."
Cooper: "So, on the record, you believe that undocumented immigrants should get instate college tuition."
Clinton: "If their states agree, then we want more states to do the same thing."
Cooper: "Governor O’Malley?"
Martin O'Malley: "Anderson, we actually did this in my state of Maryland. We passed a state version of the DREAM Act…and a lot of the xenophobes, the immigrant haters like some that we've heard like, Donald Trump, that carnival barker in the Republican party tried to mischaracterize it as free tuition for illegal immigrants. But, we took our case to the people when it was petitioned to referendum, and we won with 58 percent of the vote. The more our children learn, the more they will earn, and that's true of children who have yet to be naturalized but will become American citizens."
Dana Bash asked: "Secretary Clinton, you now support mandated paid family leave. Carly Fiorina, the first female CEO of a Fortune 50 company, argues, if the government requires paid leave, it will force small businesses to, quote, ‘hire fewer people and create fewer jobs.' What do you say not only to Carly Fiorina, but also a small-business owner out there who says, you know, I like this idea, but I just can’t afford it?"
Hillary Clinton: "Well, I’m surprised she says that, because California has had a paid leave program for a number of years. And it's…"
Bash: "It's on the federal level."
Clinton: "Well, but all — well, on a state level, a state as big as many countries in the world. And it has not had the ill effects that the Republicans are always saying it will have. And I think this is – this is typical Republican scare tactics. We can design a system and pay for it that does not put the burden on small businesses. I remember as a young mother, you know, having a baby wake up who was sick and I’m supposed to be in court, because I was practicing law. I know what it’s like. And I think we need to recognize the incredible challenges that so many parents face, particularly working moms. I see my good friend, Senator Gillibrand, in the front row. She’s been a champion of this. We need to get a consensus through this campaign, which is why I’m talking about it everywhere I go, and we need to join the rest of the advanced world in having it."
Bash: "But Secretary Clinton, even many people who agree with you might say, look, this is very hard to do, especially in today's day and age. There are so many people who say, 'Really? Another government program? Is that what you're proposing? And at the expense of taxpayer money?'"
Clinton: "Well, look, you know, when people say that — it's always the Republicans or their sympathizers who say, 'You can't have paid leave, you can’t provide health care.’ They don’t mind having big government to interfere with a woman’s right to choose and to try to take down Planned Parenthood. They're fine with big government when it comes to that. I’m sick of it. You know, we can do these things. We should not be paralyzed — we should not be paralyzed by the Republicans and their constant refrain, big government this, big government that, that except for what they want to impose on the American people. I know we can afford it, because we’re going to make the wealthy pay for it. That is the way to get it done.”
Cooper: "Thank you. Senator Sanders?"
Bernie Sanders: "Yeah, Dana, here’s the point: Every other major country on Earth, every one, including some small countries, say that when a mother has a baby, she should stay home with that baby. We are the only major country. That is an international embarrassment that we do not provide family — paid family and medical leave. Second of all, the secretary is right. Republicans tell us we can’t do anything except give tax breaks to billionaires and cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. That’s not what the American people want.”
Cooper: “Governor O’Malley?”
Martin O'Malley: "Anderson, in our state, we actually expanded family leave. And I have to agree with Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders. Look, the genius of our nation is that we find ways in every generation to include more of our people more fully in the economic life of our country, and we need to do that for our families, and especially so that women aren’t penalized in having to drop out of the workforce. My wife, Katie, is here with our four kids. And, man, that was a juggle when we had little kids — and keeping jobs and moving forwards. We would be a stronger nation economically if we had paid family leave."
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