Sanders says Clinton's tuition-free college plan is too complicated

Calling Hillary Clinton’s plan to make college tuition-free too “complicated,” Bernie Sanders espoused an undeniably simpler version: making “Wall Street” pick up the tab for higher education.

“We don’t need a complicated system, which is what the secretary [Clinton] is talking about,” Sanders declared during Tuesday night’s Democratic primary debate. “I pay for my program through a tax on Wall Street speculation, which will not only make colleges and universities tuition-free, it [sic] will substantially lower college debt.”

Responding to the question from moderator Dana Bash, which invoked Clinton’s past criticism that his proposal would finance college education for the children of wealthy individuals like Donald Trump, Sanders also asserted that “Donald Trump and his billionaire friends under my policies are going to pay a hell of a lot more in … taxes in the future than they're paying today.”

Clinton subsequently attempted to defend her plan, saying that she would allow millions of graduates to refinance their student debt obligations, and would also “enable anyone to go to a public college or university tuition-free” as long as they agree to work a minimum of 10 hours per week to contribute toward the cost.

According to fact sheets put out by both campaigns, the college affordability plans advanced by the two candidates differ in other respects, as well, though both envision financing their proposals by taxing “the rich” in some fashion.

The most significant distinction between the plans is their cost. Whereas Sanders calls for spending $700 billion over 10 years with his College for All Act, Clinton is proposing a comparatively “modest” $350 billion expenditure over the same period in her New College Compact.

Clinton says she will pay for her plan “by limiting certain tax expenditures for high-income taxpayers,” but has taken flak for failing to articulate the deductions she would target, how much she would curtail them, or even her definition of “high-income.”

Sanders, on the other hand, has been both more specific and more ambitious, suggesting that the government could pick up the cost of college tuition “by imposing a Robin Hood tax on Wall Street.” The tax, which Sanders couches as a way to rein in “speculators,” would impose a fee of 0.5 percent on stock trades, 0.1 percent on bonds, and 0.005 percent on derivatives, which he estimates would generate “hundreds of billions a year.”

He predicts that it will raise so much revenue, in fact, that the leftovers “could also be used to create millions of jobs and rebuild the middle class of this country,” which will likely be necessary once the economic impact of the tax begins to be felt.

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