08/10/2020

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts on Tuesday released a plan that would use existing law to sidestep Congress and start implementing her proposal to cancel student loan debt on “day one.”

While the political jockeying gets more attention, candidates in the 2020 Democratic presidential race are advancing serious policy proposals. The Washington Times takes a weekly look at some of them that may have flown under the radar.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts on Tuesday released a plan that would use existing law to sidestep Congress and start implementing her proposal to cancel student loan debt on “day one.”
Ms. Warren said she would direct her education secretary to start modifying student loans, in line with her proposal to cancel up to $50,000 of debt for most borrowers.
“I will start to use existing laws on day one of my presidency to implement my student loan debt cancellation plan that offers relief to 42 million Americans — in addition to using all available tools to address racial disparities in higher education, crack down on for-profit institutions, and eliminate predatory lending,” she said on her campaign website.
Her campaign said the Higher Education Act gives the Department of Education discretion to modify or “wipe away” loans even if they don’t meet eligibility criteria for certain cancellation programs.
The campaign provided a letter from the Project on Predatory Student Lending at Harvard Law School, where she was a professor, attesting that the plan is legally sound.
Ms. Warren acknowledged that the plan would require clearing a “lot of red tape” to succeed.
“But let’s be clear: Our government has cleared far bigger hurdles to meet the needs of big businesses when they came looking for bailouts, tax giveaways and other concessions,” she said.
Bloomberg on flavored e-cigarettes
Former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg on Wednesday put out a plan that would prohibit the sale of all flavored tobacco products, saying President Trump has backtracked after expressing interest in restricting flavored e-cigarettes.
“President Trump has mastered the art of the broken promise — on issues from health care to gun safety — and e-cigarettes have been no exception,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “We need a leader who will stand up to the industry and protect our children’s health. I’ve done that throughout my career, and I will do it in the White House as president.”
Under the proposal, Mr. Bloomberg would direct the Food and Drug Administration to prohibit the sale of flavored e-cigarettes and menthol-based tobacco products.
Mr. Bloomberg also would push to reduce the amount of nicotine in cigarettes and other tobacco products and hike taxes on cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco and pipe tobacco.
Mr. Trump signed legislation last year that raised the legal purchasing age for all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, from 18 years old to 21.
The president had made a pitch in September to ban most flavored e-cigarettes, but later expressed concern that an outright prohibition could pave the way for a black market.
Steyer on taxes
Billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer on Thursday rolled out a plan to cut taxes by 10% for middle-class families and boost several popular tax credits, to be paid for partly by imposing a “wealth tax” on the rich.
Mr. Steyer said he’s trying to give the Democrats an economic vision they can stack up against President Trump’s record.
“To win in November, Democrats need to take Donald Trump on over the economy and beat him,” Mr. Steyer said. “It is the only way to end 40 years of Republican giveaways to big corporations at the expense of working families.”
Mr. Steyer would cut taxes by 10% for families making less than $250,000 per year and individuals making less than $200,000 per year. He also would expand the earned income and child tax credits.
The plan calls for pouring $2 trillion into a “clean-energy transition” in areas such as infrastructure.
It would be paid for by imposing a new tax on the top 0.1% of Americans, reversing part of the 2017 Republican tax cuts and increasing taxes on capital gains and dividends.
Klobuchar on disabilities
Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota last Friday rolled out a set of proposals designed to safeguard the rights of people with disabilities, including financial assistance for caregivers, more money for government research, and protections for students with disabilities.
Ms. Klobuchar wants to enact a tax credit of up to $6,000 per year for people who are caring for an aging relative or family member with a disability to offset to cost of medical care and lodging, as well as a separate refundable tax credit to go toward long-term care costs.
She said she also would push legislation she has co-sponsored in the Senate that would make it easier for people with disabilities to stay in their own homes if they choose to do so.
Ms. Klobuchar would boost federal spending and bolster research at the National Institutes of Health to study causes and potential treatments for people with disabilities.
She also wants to keep grant money flowing to help students with disabilities and would increase funding for programs intended to connect those students with resources that prepare them for college or employment.
Ms. Klobuchar also would lobby for a voting package to strengthen requirements for accessibility at polling places and issue grants to states to make it easier for people with disabilities to vote.
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