Each candidate has got their own views on a wide variety of issues, but here’s what you need to know about what the candidates think about personal finance topics.
There’s currently a long list of Democratic presidential candidates trying to win the party’s nomination, so I’m looking at the 10 frontrunners’ views on student loan debt, universal basic income, and taxes.
Former Vice President Joe Biden
While former Vice President Joe Biden has said in the past that we need 16 years of free public education for all children, he has not mentioned a lot of specific plans about student loan debt. And Vice President Biden has been involved in making student loans more difficult to discharge in bankruptcy.
He has also come out against the concept of universal basic income. On the tax front, he has suggested removing the income cap on the Social Security payroll tax, allowing those over 65 to claim the earned income tax credit and a $5,000 tax credit for informal caregivers providing long-term care for the elderly.
Senator Bernie Sanders
Senator Bernie Sanders has addressed student loan debt in major ways. He wants to cancel all outstanding student loans made, insured or guaranteed by the federal government and he wants to make public universities and colleges tuition-free as well.
Rather than supporting universal basic income, Bernie Sanders believes in guaranteeing jobs for anyone who wants one and is prepared to work. He has suggested a higher estate tax, a financial transaction tax, reducing corporate tax breaks, and increasing taxes on the wealthy.
Senator Elizabeth Warren
Senator Elizabeth Warren has many ideas when it comes to student loan debt. She has proposed tuition-free college and massive amounts of student loan forgiveness for those with less than $50,000 of federal student loan debt and less than $100,000 of household income. To pay for this, she suggests at least a 2% annual tax on the 75,000 families with more than $50,000,000 of wealth.
As far as universal basic income goes, she believes there are other more pressing priorities to deal with before considering it. She has previously been involved with legislation that would expand the earned income tax credit and child tax credit, create a new credit for working family caregivers and establish a refundable adoption tax credit.
Senator Warren’s thoughts on personal finances are throughout the book she co-wrote with her daughter All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan which details the “50/30/20 rule” as a way of organizing your money and budgeting.
Senator Kamala Harris
Senator Kamala Harris believes student loan debt is a big problem. To address the issue, she has many suggestions including allowing students to refinance student loans to lower interest rates, making community college both tuition and fee-free and making four-year public colleges a debt-free experience.
She proposed a tax credit of up to $500 per month for families earning less than $100,000 per year. The numbers are cut in half for single filers. While this isn’t universal basic income, it is a potential boon for many households in America.
She wants to repeal President Trump’s Tax Cut and Jobs Act and add a tax credit for renters that pay more than 30% of their income in rent as long as they make less than $100,000 per year or $125,000 per year in high-cost areas.
Senator Cory Booker
Senator Cory Booker hasn’t detailed his plans on how he’d deal with student loan debt if he were elected president yet. That said, he has sponsored student loan debt legislation in the past, including the Debt-Free College Act.
What he has supported are American Opportunity Accounts which would give every child $1,000 at birth and up to an additional $2,000 per year depending on family income. The money could only be used for education, homeownership, and certain other items. It would offer a 3% annual return and be managed by the Treasury Department.
Booker suggests a refundable tax credit for renters for eligible taxpayers when paying fair market rent exceeds 30% of income as well as increasing and expanding the earned income tax credit.
Senator Amy Klobuchar
Senator Amy Klobuchar is one of the few democratic candidates that doesn’t think tuition-free college is a smart move due to the huge expense. She does think that college costs should be controlled, though. Her ideas include getting rid of tuition at community colleges and allowing students to refinance their student loan debt at a low rate.
She wants to increase the corporate income tax rate to 25%, tax capital gains at ordinary tax rates, and expand the earned income credit as well as the child care credit.
Mayor Pete Buttigieg
Mayor Pete Buttigieg has first-hand experience with six-figure student loan debt. That said, he doesn’t have any straightforward policies on how to deal with it. He does say that low income students shouldn’t have to take on debt to attend college, though.
He hasn’t come out in direct favor of universal basic income but believes the idea is worth considering. As far as taxes go, he suggests higher tax rates on top brackets, a wealth tax on the wealthiest Americans and a financial transaction tax.
One of Andrew Yang’s biggest issues is universal basic income, or the Freedom Dividend as he calls it. This would result in a guaranteed payment of $1,000 per month, or $12,000 per year, from the U.S. government to every U.S. citizen over the age of 18. There would be no qualifications and everyone would get it.
To pay for this, Yang suggests instituting a 10% value-added tax. This tax is on the production of U.S. goods and services by corporations, but would likely raise the price of the goods and services you purchase. Other tax ideas include ending the favorable tax treatment of carried interest and capital gains as well as a tax on financial transactions.
He has many ideas on how to fix the student loan and tuition problems, too. One idea is forgiving any remaining student loan debt after making payments of 10% of your income for 10 years. He believes in making student loan debt discharged in bankruptcy easier as well as expanding the number of options available for student loan forgiveness.
Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro
Julian Castro has outlined a plan on how to make college more affordable as well as ways to help the student loan debt crisis. Like many other candidates, he supports getting rid of tuition at public colleges. He believes in easing student loan debt payment requirements, forgiving any student loan debt remaining after 240 months of payments, allowing the discharge of student loan debt in bankruptcy and much more.
He wants to increase the top tax bracket’s tax rate, raise the capital gains tax rate for those that earn over $400,000 and tax annual investment income of Americans holding more than $40,000,000 in assets regardless of whether they sell their investments. He wants to increase the child tax credit and expand the earned income tax credit, as well.
Currently (at the time of writing), the two highest polling Republican candidates are President Trump and Bill Weld.
Here are their views on personal finance topics.
President Donald Trump
If you want to know what a current sitting president wants to do in their next term, take a look at what they’ve already tried to accomplish.
President Trump has enacted tariffs on goods coming from China. Essentially, these tariffs increase the price of imports from China. While companies may be currently cutting their profits on what they import, the tariffs may eventually be passed on to consumers. This means potentially higher prices in the future on the items you buy that are made in China.
In President Trump’s first term, he signed a sweeping tax cut legislation. There have been talks of additional tax cuts, but those are highly dependent on getting Congress to pass the legislation.
Finally, President Trump recently forgave student loan debt for completely and permanently disabled veterans automatically, but there hasn’t been much serious talk of any other changes to student loans.
Former Governor Bill Weld
In an interview with New Hampshire Public Radio, Former Governor Bill Weld has stated that he believes student loan debt should be able to be renegotiated or refinanced. He stated that the cost of a college education would be high on his agenda of issues to tackle.
He suggests a flat 19% income tax.
While personal finance topics are important, they’re far from the only issue these potential future presidents will have to deal with.
But the issue – personal finances – is close to our hearts as voters in the United States. And my guess is that it always will be.
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