Join the Revolution #FeelTheBern

Kyle Craig, an undergraduate at Old Dominion University said,

“I expect my debt to be around $30,000 by the time I’m done here (Rayfield).”

He wants to go to graduate school, but he says in an interview with USA Today, that he is already drowning in debt. As a student at Iowa Western Community College, I have accumulated over $8,000 in student loan debt.

Kyle, many of you, and I are part of the 40 million students in the U.S. who are in debt trying to finance our education to better our lives (Rayfield). Collectively, we have a staggering $1.2 trillion in student loan debt, and our average repayment is $279 per month (Rayfield). This burden is holding back my entire generation and is damaging the economy. We should not need to accumulate massive amounts of debt just to get an education.

In addition, I live with a very rare genetic disease called cystinosis. The disease damages all of my organs, especially my kidneys, eyes, muscles, thyroid, and brain. Living with this disease is difficult, particularly when health insurance in the U.S. is so confusing (eve with the Affordable Care Act). Bearing in mind that my primary medication to treat the cystinosis costs $50,000 for a 30 day supply and making sure the medication is covered by my health insurance is challenging. While CEOs of health insurance companies like Mark Bertolini, of Aetna (3rd largest in the nation) made $30.7 million in 2013 (Covington).

bernie_sandersThus, I support Senator Bernie Sanders for the Democratic Party nomination for president.

Living with cystinosis and dealing with doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, and health insurance companies has led me to become a supporter of the single-payer health care system, which Bernie Sanders is fighting for.

Yes, the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is an improvement from where we were at before. The healthcare law, ensures that up to 105 million Americans cannot be subject to lifetime caps by their health insurance. The law also guarantees up to 17 million children with pre-existing conditions cannot be denied coverage or charged more (Covington).

The ACA does not end the skyrocketing prices and it doesn’t guarantee healthcare as a right to all Americans. It does nothing to curb the profit motive that dominates our nation’s health care system, or the for-profit pharmacy corporations, hospitals, and provider practice groups that are part of the problem driving up costs, which give the incentive to overtreat patients and overcharge.

tumblr_nqmseszzS11uvablzo1_1280Under the single-payer system, it would ensure coverage to everyone in the United States regardless of their income. According to the Wall Street Journal, Bernie’s plan would save us about $500 billion a year. This includes the initial costs to train more doctors and nurses.

Furthermore, the 19 other wealthiest countries and Canada have a similar health care system to what Bernie is proposing, and they pay about 60% on their health care compared to how much we spend per person. Bernie plans to pay for this expanded Medicare plan by creating the American Health Security Trust Fund, which would include a new healthcare income tax (like the current Medicare tax), an employer payroll tax, a surcharge on high-income individuals, and a tax on securities transactions. None of this is set in stone for how he plans to fully pay for the plan. In addition, under the plan, Bernie would keep healthcare costs down by using the government (as we do with Medicare) to negotiate more reasonable prices for basic medical services.

5aa15fd624fb8341a6a286b7749abe24Navigating how to pay for my education, while dealing with cystinosis is daunting. I have hope because Bernie will work towards college affordability. He believes that everyone regardless of their family’s income should be able to get a high quality education. Bernie believes that every college student who studies hard and succeeds in school should be able to get the education we need to move forward in life.

Bernie plans to make tuition-free at public colleges and universities. He plans to stop the federal government from making a profit on student loans and he plans to cut student loan interest rates. His plan will also ensure that students can refinance their loans at today’s low interest rates. In addition, Bernie will make sure that students can use need-based financial aid and work study programs. This would all be fully paid for by imposing a tax on Wall Street speculators who caused the 2008 economic crash.

Hillary Clinton, who is running against Bernie Sanders for the Democratic Party nomination, also has a plan for college affordability. However, I disagree with it, because of her 10 hour per week work requirement (Eskow).

As we all know, college is a time for students to study, achieve, yet sometimes it can be competitive when we are trying to get scholarships or get into a four-year university. Consequently, the work requirement will carry an additional burden of time and effort to already stressed students. Besides, wealthy students will not share this burden because many of them don’t have to worry about tuition or how to pay.

“I’m not going to give free college to kids who don’t work some hours to try to put their own effort into their education,” said Hillary Clinton. (Eskow)

Personally, I find her words judgmental. I know that I am not asking for anything to be given to me. I am and will continue to work for my education by making sure I achieve academic success. I believe that her words and her proposed plan reflects her divergent views as who we should be as a nation, and attitudes toward the working class and young adults.

Further, I believe that Bernie’s plan to make college tuition-free and debt-free is not a radical idea. Many countries including Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Germany offer free college. Even in the U.S., the University of California system did not charge tuition until the 1980s. In 1965, the average tuition at a four-year public university in the U.S. was $243 per semester.

I stand with Bernie Sanders as he runs for President, not only because I know he is fighting for the working class and young adults, but because he is speaking truth to power. As he says,

“I’m not running for president because it’s my turn, but because it’s the turn of all of us to live in a nation of hope and opportunity, not for some, not for the few, but for all (Johnson).”

Bernie understands that the rich in our nation is continuing to get richer while income and wealth inequality has reached astronomical levels. He sees that the costs of higher education is rising every year, which is suffocating my entire generation. He sees that even though more Americans can get health insurance, the prices for health care and prescription drugs are skyrocketing, forcing people to choose between paying co-pays and buying food. Thus, I agree with Bernie when he said,

“we need a political revolution, to transform American politics. I am talking about bringing in the voices of millions who have given up on the political process. when that happens everything that I talk about will be passed. If it does not, virtually nothing will (Johnson).”

Therefore, I call on you all to join me in supporting Bernie Sanders!

Sources

Eskow, Richard. “Sanders vs. Clinton: Who Has the Best Plan for College Students?” ourfuture.org. Campaign for America’s Future, 2 Oct. 2015 Web. 20 Nov. 2015.

Johnson, Dave. “Sanders’ Socialism Speech: America Is For All of Us, Not Just Wealthy,” ourfuture.org. Campaign for America’s Future, 19 Nov. 2015 Web. 21 Nov. 2015.

Rayfield, Nicholas. “National Student Loan debt reaches a bonkers $1.2 trillion,” college.usatoday.com. USA Today 8 April 2015 Web. 21 Nov. 2015

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