The UC-AFT council voted unanimously to endorse Bernie Sanders for president. Although our national organization has endorsed Hillary Clinton, we feel that Sanders’ position on free public higher education, Wall Street reform, universal healthcare, unions, campaign finance, and climate change represent a rare chance to push for a truly progressive agenda.
Sanders’ is the only candidate who has tied the rising cost of higher education and student debt to Wall Street. His plan pushes to increase the number of full-time faculty, reduce administrative costs, and increase spending on instruction. Many of his ideas on universities coincide with my book Why Public Higher Education Should be Free.
Some people have asked why we should tax Wall Street transactions to pay for higher education. The answer is pretty simple, each time that Wall Street crashes, tuition goes up and student debt increases. Moreover, Wall Street is now engaged in a reckless attempt to cash in on student loans by creating Student Loan Asset-Backed Securities (SLABs). If this makes you think about betting on subprime loans, it should, since the same people are trying to make money off of indebted students by pooling together risky packages of student loans.
While Hillary Clinton has also pushed for debt-free college, her program does not go as far as Sanders. Furthermore, Sanders clearly sees that very little of the progressive agenda will be advanced, if we do not change how political campaigns are funded. He seeking to create a social movement that will demand a different mode of politics, and therefore instead of asking if he can get his agenda done in the current system, we should ask can he help us create a new system.