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Debt-Free College Now a Centerpiece in 2016 Debate!

Monday was one of the high points in the PCCC’s organizational history.


“The phrase ‘debt-free college’ was hardly present in the national political lexicon until the Progressive Change Campaign Committee launched a campaign in January to push Democrats to support the idea.” [Bloomberg, May 8, 2015]



MSNBC:Ai??Clinton’s sweeping new debt-free college plan

Wall Street Journal:Ai??Hillary Clinton Proposes Debt-Free Tuition at Public College

The Guardian:Ai??Clinton takes debt-free higher education from progressive dream to mainstream

(Help the PCCC’s effective activism continue. Make an impact with aAi??$3 donation to our presidential organizing.)

(Also,Ai??please sign the petition for debt-free college as the PCCC works to get more members of Congress and candidates on board…and have Democratic unity.)


Clinton yesterday:Ai??”I’ve been traveling the country for months, talking to students and families, educators, legislators, and experts of every stripe — including youngAi??progressive activists whoai??i??ve put the issue of debt-free college and affordability at the top of the national agenda.”

Real Clear Politics:Ai??ai???Affordable,Ai??debt-free college is now an economic policy plank for all the Democratic presidential candidates,Ai??who believe it resonates across political parties, across economic strata, and with young people as well as with their parents and

Wall Street Journal:Ai??”The Clinton campaign views this proposal as a centerpiece of its domestic agenda, akin in importance to health care in 2008, and it is her most expensive proposal so far.”

Washington Post:Ai??ai???Tackling the high cost of college has emerged asAi??a central issueAi??in the race for the Democratic presidential

This was just …


Debt-free college means all students in America should be able graduate without debt. This big idea would expand economic opportunity, expand America’s economy, and improve quality of life for millions of people. Debt-free college is a result that can be achieved through multiple means.

Below is a checklist that Demos and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee will use to judge any plan by presidential candidates or Congress.

A true debt-free college plan should affirmatively check all of these boxes:

DoAi??allAi??undergraduate students have access to debt-free college?
Does debt-free college apply toAi??allAi??undergraduate public institutions?
Does debt-free college apply toAi??allAi??college costs, not just tuition?
Does the ai???debt-free collegeai??? plan facilitate all students having equal access to high-quality public education — i.e. incentivizing investment in instruction and student support services.
Does the formula used to calculate “debt-free” avoid academic hardship for students and economic hardship for everyday families? (i.e. Low-income students are not forced to hurt their academic performance by working excessive hours while wealthier students study. Middle-class families are not assumed to have savings and disposable cash they do not truly have.)
Is aid distributed progressively — investing most in those who may not attend or complete college, or not maximize their participation in the economy after college, due to student debt?

The G.I. Bill resulted in a 7-to-1 return on investment for our economy. By unshackling students from crushing debt — freeing them to start the next Google, start a small business, or buy a first home — we will see similar economic expansion. Quality of life will also be improved for millions of Americans who will be more able to get married, enter the career they are passionate about, or even do something as simple as moving out of their parents’ home.

That’s why a national poll by the Progressive Change Institute in January 2015Ai??showedAi??this issue is popular …

VIDEO: Clinton talks debt-free college for first time!

Huge news. Monday in Iowa, Hillary Clinton talked about moving toward debt-free college for the first time. Take a look at the video.

Bloomberg News reports:

“The phrase ‘debt-free college’ was hardly present in the national political lexicon until the Progressive Change Campaign Committee launched a campaign in January to push Democrats to support the idea.”

The more public support presidential candidates see for big ideas, the more they will make them central to their campaigns.

Watch the video. Then, join 320,000 of us on the petition urging Clinton and other candidates to make debt-free college central in 2016.

Inside Higher Ed reports:

“After a concerted push over the past several months from liberals and progressive groups, Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign appears to be on the cusp of embracing a debt-free college plan.”

PCCC has partnered with Democracy for America, Daily Kos, Demos, the AFL-CIO, NEA, the Working Families Party, Credo Action, MoveOn, and Americans for Democratic Action.

Here is a summary of PCCC members’ activism together:

In January, debt-free college rose to the top of the Progressive Change Instituteai??i??s ai???Big Ideas
On the day of the State of the Union, PCI released polling data of 2016 likely general election voters that showed federal investment in debt-free college is 71% to 19% popular. It is the #1 issue that Democrats who didn’t vote in 2014 said would have motivated them to vote.
In February and March, PCCC lobbied Congress. And sent field organizers to Iowa and New Hampshire.
In April, 5,000 political leaders signed the Ready For BoldnessAi??statement to urge all Democratic presidential candidates to run on …

From Martin O’Malley: “Our ultimate goal should be simple: every student should be able to go to college debt-free.”

As the 2016 landscape gets formed, likely presidential candidate Martin Oai??i??Malley endorsed debt-free college last Friday in anAi??op-ed and a national email to supporters, where he declared, “Our ultimate goal should be simple: every student should be able to go to collegeAi??debt-free.” Check out his email below.

———- Forwarded message ———-
From:Ai??Martin O’MalleyAi??<>
Date: Fri, Apr 24, 2015 at 9:35 AM
Subject: Debt free college

Martin O'Malley - O' PAC


Sounds like a pipe dream? It shouldn’t be.

When my dad returned home from flying a B-24 Liberator in WWII, the GI bill was what enabled him to go to school, open a law practice, and support a family.

Today, our kids arenai??i??t getting the same bargain that my dad did.

The majority of students are graduating with significant debt. This is debt big enough for the down payment on a new house. And instead of buying a house or starting a business, recent graduates are struggling not to default on their student loans.

It’s outrageous that we can figure out a way to bail out big banks, but we can’t figure out a way to make college affordable.

In Maryland, we saw this trend, and we refused to give up.Ai??We froze tuition at public four-year institutions, invested in higher education and financial aid, and took steps to make sure our high school students were graduating with a degree thatai??i??s already worth something.

Now it’s time, as a country, that we do even more.Ai??Our ultimate goal should be simple: every student should be able to go to college debt-free.

Today, I’m offering some ideas to tackle this problem of student loan debt head-on.

Debt Free College - VIDEO

We can make college affordable, and we can start by making sure our students …


Including:Ai??Senator Harry Reid, Rep. Barbara Lee, Rep. Donna Edwards,Ai??Colorado Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, David Wellstone, Van Jones, Heather McGhee, Dean Baker
Former U.S. Senators Tom Harkin and Ted Kaufman, Former House Majority Whip David Bonior, Former Iowa Democratic Chair Roxanne Conlin
Plus Nearly 200 Current and Former State Legislators, 24 Current and Former Members of Congress, Hundreds of Local Union Leaders

See Statement and 5,000 Signers, Sortable by State atAi??

Today, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) is announcing over 5,000 Democratic leaders across the country have signed on to the joint statement urging Hillary Clinton and all other potential Democratic presidential candidates to run on ai???big, bold, economic-populist ideasai??? such as debt-free college, expanding Social Security benefits, Wall Street reform, campaign finance reform, higher wages, and millions of clean-energy jobs.

Todayai??i??s announcement comes exactly two weeks after theAi??New York TimesAi??and others reported that 200 Iowa and New Hampshire political leaders launched with the PCCC, including former U.S. Senator Tom Harkin.

PollingAi??from the Progressive Change Institute shows that ideas in todayai??i??s statement are popular with voters of all political stripes.

In addition to building national momentum for the joint statement, the PCCCai??i??sAi??Ready For BoldnessAi??campaign is recruiting volunteers in early primary states to attend campaign events and ask candidates whether they support economic-populist ideas.


“Being bold is the only way I’ve ever known how to win.”Ai??— U.S. Senator Harry Reid, D-NV, Senate Democratic Leader

ai??? is a big tent with 5,000 political leaders who support Hillary Clinton, other potential candidates, or nobody — all saying together that the best way for Democrats to win in 2016 is by campaigning on big, bold, economic-populist ideas that are popular with— Adam Green, Progressive Change Campaign Committee co-founder

“The American people deserve …

HUGE 3AM MOMENT: Warren & Manchin Force Senate Vote on Expand Social Security

Late last night Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and JoeAi??ManchinAi??(D-WV),Ai??together with Patty Murray (D-WA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Brian Schatz (D-HI),Ai??introduced an amendment on the Senate floor to expand Social Security benefits.Ai??As a result,Ai??each Senator who was present is now on-the-recordAi??as for or against expanding Social Security benefits.


“Elizabeth Warren has done it again — pushing a bold economic populist idea that is popular with voters, all while expanding it’s political appeal inside the Beltway. This is why she’s a bold progressive hero. Props to JoeAi??ManchinAi??for knowing that expanding Social Security benefits instead of cutting them is a no-brainer for seniors back home in West Virginia — even Republican ones.”

— Adam Green, Progressive Change Campaign Committee co-founder

The Warren-Manchin amendment:

Supports ai???the sustainable expansion of benefits under the Social Security
Supports ai???making permanently solventai??? the Social Security and Disability Trust Funds.
Would require those changes to be fully paid, deficit-neutral.

Full text of amendment 1094Ai??here.Ai??

Political significance:

Third Way attacked Warren’s economic populism inAi??a WSJ op-edAi??in Dec 2013 andAi??admitted laterthat the attack was prompted byAi??herAi??floor speechAi??onAi??Nov. 13Ai??saying, “we should be talking about expanding Social Security benefits ai??i?? not cutting them.” PCCC and othersAi??defendedAi??Warren, got multiple Third Way co-chairs to drop their affiliation, and a PCCC protest at Third Way’s officesgot them to admitAi??the majority of their money comes from Wall Street firms that would love to privatize Social Security.
Tom Harkin, from the first presidential state of Iowa, was theAi??initial senatorAi??to propose expanding benefits. Sherrod Brown from the key presidential state of OhioAi??will be re-introducingAi??it this Congress.
In 2014, Brian Schatz defeated a corporate Democrat by campaigning on Social Security expansion while his opponent left the door open to cuts. Fiscal …


“After Republicans took over the House and there was talk of a Grand Bargain, Harry ReidAi??caught the Washington chattering class by surprise and attracted the affection of millions of Americans when he declared, ‘Leave Social Security alone.’ He has been one of the most stalwart protectors of Social Security, and it’s fitting that he announced his retirement hours after voting to expand Social Security benefits — the Warren-Manchin amendment.

“HarryAi??ReidAi??has been a strong fighter in the Senate for working families, standing against corrupt trade deals like the Trans Pacific Partnership, and we’re grateful he’ll be there for this important fight the next 22 months. Americans thank HarryAi??ReidAi??for his many years of hard work and his strong values.

“Fortunately, Senate Democrats have a great bench — an increasingly progressive bench with leadership on many issues.

“Last night, Elizabeth Warren led Senate Democrats to near unanimity around the need to expand Social Security benefits, and she led them to unanimity on her bill to reduce student loan interest rates. Her lifetime of fighting for the little guy against Wall Street power — including her upset victory on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — shows she can think big, wage tough fights against powerful interests, and win key votes in the Senate. She’s the definition of a leader, and that’s why her colleagues and millions of Americans respect her and are inspired by her rise. There will likely not be a coronation to replace HarryAi??ReidAi??as Senate Democratic Leader, and Elizabeth Warren is right up there with others as someone who would be taken very seriously.”

— The Progressive Change Campaign CommitteeAi??

Contact TJ Helmstetter, director of media relations.

READY FOR BOLDNESS: Iowa & NH leaders speak out on 2016

After hearing from thousands of members across the nation, today the PCCC is kicking off a grassroots campaign to ensure every presidential candidate knows: Americans are ready for boldness.

It starts with a big announcement.

Over 200 leaders in the highly coveted first presidential primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire are joining the PCCCAi??on a statement saying, “Presidential candidates must campaign on big, bold, economic populist ideas” like debt-free college, expanding Social Security benefits, reforming Wall Street, campaign finance reform, clean-energy jobs, and more pay for workers.

Signers include Iowa’s longtime U.S. Senator Tom Harkin, members of Congress, dozens of state legislators, union presidents, and other progressives.

Sign the statement and tell any Democrat running for president: America is ready for boldness on economic populism issues.

The New York Times, the Washington Post, MSNBC, Politico, NH Journal, theAi??Des Moines Register, and the Sioux City Journal have already reported on today’s big news.

Hillary Clinton and others want support from key leaders, passionate activists, and voters — and they’ll take notice as our “Ready for Boldness” campaign gains momentum and shows them the way.

Big Elizabeth Warren-style ideas are popular, and making them central to the 2016 presidential election is key if Democrats want to win.

Our letter was signed by:

Tom Harkin, longtime U.S. Senator from Iowa
Carol Shea-Porter and Paul Hodes, recent New Hampshire members of Congress
Dave Loebsack, Iowa Congressman
Roxanne Conlin, Former Iowa Democratic Party Chair
Dozens of Iowa and New Hampshire state legislators
Iowa’s SEIU Local 199 and CWA Presidents, and New Hampshire’s NEA President
And many others

Tell the next Democratic nominee America is ready for boldness.

For the next couple weeks, we’ll take this “Ready for Boldness” campaign national — telling the media as we gain momentum.

Then, …

Big announcement: The People’s Budget

The Congressional Progressive Caucus introduced a budget that is focused on helping Americans, called The People’s Budget. CPC Co-Chair Rep. Keith Ellison sent this email to PCCC members:

Hi. This is KeithAi??Ellison, Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Yesterday, House Republicans offered their same old budget that privatizes Medicare and hurts seniors, students, and working families.

Today, I’m proud to stand with my colleagues, unions, the PCCC, economists, and others in announcing The People’s Budget — the progressive budget alternative.

The People’s Budget endorses many of the “big ideas” that progressives like you and voters of all political stripes support: Investing in millions of good-paying jobs, making college debt-free, expanding Social Security benefits, reforming our broken campaign finance system, and investing in clean energy. It closes tax loopholes for corporations that ship jobs overseas and makes Wall Street, millionaires, and billionaires pay their fair share.

Our budget will get a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives.

Will you help show the wide public support for The People’s Budget by joining me as a citizen co-sponsor today?

There are 70 of us in the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Your signature will help us convince our colleagues to vote for these big, bold, economic populist ideas. I talk to colleagues on the House floor all the time, and telling them about grassroots momentum really makes a difference.

Support our budget here.

Here is some of what’s in The People’s Budget:

Investing over $1.9 trillion in America’s future.
Creating 8.4 million good-paying jobs by 2018.
Investing $820 billion in rebuilding our roads, schools, and bridges.
Making college debt-free through federal assistance to states for public colleges and universities.
Endorsing an expansion of Social Security benefits to keep up with seniors’ true costs.
Eliminating egregious tax loopholes, including for corporations that ship jobs overseas and executives who pay themselves in stock options instead …

Donna’s on Our Side

Itai??i??s official — Donna Edwards is in! Thousands of PCCC and Democracy for America members across the nation urged Donna to run for U.S. Senate in Maryland, and she heard us loud and clear!

Donna sent PCCC a note this morning: “Thank you to all the PCCC and DFA members who urged me to run. You showed me the type of grassroots support I can count on. I’m in! Together, we will make this a people-powered campaign about bold progressive issues.”

Chip in $3 to help bold progressive Donna Edwards start her campaign with momentum!

Donna Edwards has proven time and again that she’s a bold progressive. She’s not just an ally — she’s one of us.

Donna started as a community activist. Then, she was aAi??founder of a progressive nonprofit. In Congress, she’s devoted her time to taking on powerful interests — even defeating an entrenched Wall Street Democrat to win her seat.

Donna was the first member of Congress to introduce an amendment to overturn Citizens United.Ai??She led the National Network to End Domestic Violence. And Donna agrees with Senator Elizabeth Warren that we should expand Social Security benefits — never cut them.

Donate $3 to fuel Donna’s campaign today!

Corporate “New Democrats” have been attacking the “Warren wing” in the press. They think the way to win is to cozy up to corporate interests and protect the status quo. The way bold progressives fight back is to elect more people like Donna Edwards.

Like Massachusetts, a state as blue as Maryland can give the nation the gift of a bold progressive leader.

Chip in $3


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