Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson are polling closely, according to averaged polling data from Real Clear Politics, but their positions when it comes to tackling higher education and student debt could not be any more different.
On higher education, Stein has proposed to bail out U.S. students by paying out student loan debt similarly to how the government bailed out Wall Street, according to her website. She plans to do this by lowering military spending and allocating the money to the $1.7 trillion student loan debt. Tuition will also be free for all with no restrictions, funded through this new allocation of money.
Jose Camacho, president of Students for Stein, didn’t involve himself in politics until former Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders gained traction. After Sanders lost the nomination, Camacho shifted towards organizing events on campus in support of Stein.
In Camacho’s view, the free tuition aspects of Stein’s campaign closely align with what Sanders proposed. Stein’s proposal aims to target lower military spending in the United States.
“We’re saying that we would rather pay for our citizens’ education rather than fighting wars all around the world,” said Camacho, an electrical engineering junior. “Education is a basic human right.”
The plan proposed by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to give free tuition to families under $85,000 is not enough, according to Camacho. He wants education to be free for all with no thresholds.
Seth Uzman, organizer for Students for Stein and International Socialist Organization, said the issue of tackling the $1.3 trillion debt isn’t a lack of resources, it’s an issue of who controls these resources.
“We spend over a trillion dollars every two years in military spending for the maintenance of U.S. empire,” Uzman, a mathematics, economics and Plan II senior, said in an email. “The bosses and the politicians they fund were more than willing to set aside nearly $8 trillion of financial resources for the rescue of predatory banks that robbed people, disproportionately Black families, of their wealth in 2008. Its the students and the entire working class that deserve a bailout, not the bosses that have never done anything but make our lives worse.”
Johnson has proposed eliminating the Department of Education to bring back power to the state and local governments, according to his website. He believes high tuition costs are attributed to guaranteed loans by the government.
“Because you are guaranteed a government student loan, you have no excuse to not go to college,” Johnson said in an interview with International Business Times in June. “Colleges’ and universities’ tuition keeps going up. They have absolutely no reality with regard to their pricing. If every college student tomorrow says, ‘I’m not going to go to college until the price of college, university education drops,’ guess what? It would. It would happen. It would happen dramatically.”
In regards to student loans, Johnson has advocated for lower interest rates so fewer people default on their loans.
Texas Youth for Johnson/Weld did not get back to The Daily Texan at the time this article was published.
According to McMullin’s website, he wants to offload the U.S. student loan debt onto the shoulders of the government.
“To make sure that universities have skin in the game, they should have to repay a portion of the debt incurred by students who fail to graduate or default on their loans,” McMullin’s website states.
McMullin also wants to cap interest rates for student loans at 8.25 percent over a 10 year period.
The Daily Texan guide to political endorsements states that no student organizations support McMullin.