After receding from the national stage, the free college movement is resurfacing as a central rallying point for Democrats as they set their sights on the White House.
At least 18 of the party’s 23 presidential contenders have come out in support of some version of free college . Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts promises free tuition at public colleges and universities. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota says it should be limited to two years of community college. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York wants to provide free tuition in exchange for public service.
The candidates are responding to what some say is a crisis in college affordability, an issue likely to draw attention in the first primary debates later this month. Year after year, colleges say they have to raise tuition to offset state funding cuts. Students have shouldered the cost by taking out loans, pushing the country’s student debt to nearly $1.6 trillion this year. Even for many in the middle class, experts say, college is increasingly moving out of reach.
Free college, a catchall term for a range of affordability plans, is increasingly seen as a solution. Nearly 20 states now promise some version of free college, from Tennessee’s free community college program to New York’s Excelsior Scholarship, which offers up to four years of free tuition at state schools for residents with family incomes below $125,000 a year.
But research on the effectiveness of state programs has been mixed. Critics say the offers are often undermined by limited funding and come with narrow eligibility rules that exclude many students.
“This is a problem that has not gone away but has gotten worse in many communities,” said Mark Huelsman, associate director of policy and research for Demos, a liberal think tank. “It’s enough of a problem that people expect some action on it, and they expect some plan for how to get there.”
Plans from Warren, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Obama housing chief Julian Castro aim to eliminate tuition at all public institutions. The candidates say that would open college to a wider group of Americans and greatly reduce the need for loans. Warren argues that college, like other levels of schooling, is “a basic public good that should be available to everyone with free tuition and zero debt at graduation.”
Others, including Klobuchar and former Vice President Joe Biden, have backed more moderate plans to provide two years of free tuition at community colleges, similar to an idea pushed by President Barack Obama in 2015.
And there are some who say students should be able to graduate without debt. To do that, several candidates want to help students with tuition as well as textbooks and living costs. Such “debt-free” plans, which aim to steer money toward students with lower incomes, are supported Sen. Kamala Harris of California and Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, among others.
Proposals for free college nationwide started to gain popularity among Democrats during the Obama administration and in the 2016 primary race. That discussion stalled after the election of President Donald Trump, who is seen as hostile to the idea. His administration blames colleges for the debt crisis, saying they ramp up tuition because they know students have easy access to federal loans.
Before Trump was elected, Sanders was credited with bringing the issue to the fore when he campaigned on a promise to make tuition free at public colleges. Hillary Clinton, the party’s 2016 nominee, initially criticized the idea but later adopted a similar plan. Now, early in the 2020 race, Democrats have been quick to show their support. Instead of debating whether it should be free, most are weighing which model is best and how to achieve it.
“It’s striking how much the debate has shifted over the past decade,” Huelsman said. “If you look at the 2008 election, 2012, it was not something that was necessarily a prominent part of the debate.”
For most candidates, free college is just part of the solution as they confront student debt and college access. Several also promise to help borrowers refinance loans at lower interest rates; some want to wipe away huge chunks of the nation’s student debt.
Those types of proposals are likely to be popular among the growing share of voters paying off student loans, said Douglas Harris, an economics professor at Tulane University who has studied the effectiveness of free college.
“Something like 1 in 5 voters has college debt, which is a huge percentage,” he said. “And when you have a huge number of people affected by something, then that certainly gets people’s attention.”
One of the major sticking points over free college is the price. Warren’s total education plan is estimated to cost $1.25 trillion over a decade. Sanders’ free college plan would cost $47 billion a year. Both call on the federal government to split the cost with states while also raising taxes on Wall Street or the wealthiest Americans.
Some Democrats, though, say that kind of spending is untenable. Klobuchar has rejected the idea of free college for everyone, saying the country can’t afford it. Instead she backs two years of free community college as a way to help prepare workers and fill shortages in the job market.
“When I look at the jobs that are available right now out there, we have a lot of job openings in areas that could use a one-year degree, a two-year degree, and we’re just not filling those jobs,” Klobuchar said at a March town hall in Iowa. She added that students can attend community college and then “later go on to complete their four-year degree.”
Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke supports free community college for all Americans, along with debt-free college at four-year institutions for students with low and modest incomes. Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper says he would make community college free “for those who can’t afford it.”
Many free college supporters see promise in a federal plan that could bring more funding and share the cost with states. But in Congress, that kind of plan has yet to take hold.
In March, Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, reintroduced his Debt-Free College Act, which calls for a partnership with states to make sure students can afford all college costs without borrowing loans. The idea died in the previous session and has yet to be taken up in this one, but the new bill has gained wider support from Democrats.
Among those backing the plan are four 2020 candidates: Gillibrand, Harris, Warren and Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey.
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Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., told Fox News on Sunday he would have ordered military strikes against Iran in response to mine attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman last week, but added that President Trump was not wrong to hold off on ordering such action so far.
“I think it needs to be clear, and hopefully it is clear to Iran, that basically, this is it,” Kinzinger said on “America’s News HQ.” “This is about the extent of what we’ll accept. This is the sixth tanker they’ve damaged, plus the fact that a quarter of American troops killed in Iraq were killed by Iran, and there’s a point at which we’ve had enough.”
Kinzinger, a lieutenant colonel in the Wisconsin Air National Guard, said any military response would have to be “a little above proportional” and would have to involve “taking out some of their [Iran’s] military infrastructure, their fast boat infrastructure, their ability to mine this area and also maybe surface-to-air missile sites.”
A senior U.S. official told Fox News this weekend that the Iranians fired on an American MQ9 Reaper drone shortly after the aircraft arrived at the scene of the tanker explosion Thursday. Fox News also has learned Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen shot down a second U.S. drone in recent days.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told “Fox News Sunday” that there was “no doubt” the explosions were the work of Iranian forces.
“These were attacks by The Islamic Republic of Iran on commercial shipping, on the freedom of navigation, with a clear intent to deny transit through the Strait [of Hormuz],” Pompeo said. “The intelligence community has lots of data, lots of evidence — the world will come to see much of it. But the American people should rest assured we have high confidence with respect to who conducted these attacks as well as half a dozen other attacks throughout the world over the past 40 days.”
Iran has denied being involved in the attacks and accused America of promoting an “Iranophobic” campaign against it.
Kinzinger described Iran as “a weak country that, because of the reimplementation of sanctions and the pulling out [by the Trump administration] of the Iran nuclear deal, is now lashing out.
“Look, strong, confident countries don’t attach mines to innocent ships, and that’s what they’re doing.”
Fox News’ Leland Vittert, Chris Wallace and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Source: Fox News Politics
Escalating tensions with Iran are “disturbingly reminiscent” of the lead-up to the Iraq War, Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg told Sunday’s CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“There’s no question that Iran has a pattern of malign activities,” the South Bend, Indiana, mayor said. “There’s also no question that there is a pattern that is disturbingly reminiscent of the run-up to the war in Iraq in some cases being driven by the same people.”
Buttigieg said it should be shocking and “extremely disturbing to all of us” that one of the architects of the Iraq war is the President’s national security adviser right now [John Bolton], when the President himself has pretended that he was against the Iraq War all along.”
Buttigieg stressed that “we have learned as a country in my lifetime just how hard it is to end a war. We’d better be working very hard to make sure we don’t start one. And you when you look at the destabilizing chain reaction that appears to have been initiated when this president withdrew us from the Iran nuclear deal, I’m very concerned about the stability of the region and the possibility that this is a dynamic that even the president won’t be able to control, if it continues to move in the direction of escalation and hostility.”
When pressed as to what action he would take if he was president, Buttigieg said “the first thing I would do is consult with the intelligence community, and not politicize their findings, but try to find out what’s going on.”
He stressed that, “there’s no question that the U.S. has an interest in maintaining the security and safety and freedom of movement in those key shipping lanes, [but] There’s also no question that, whatever we do, we need to make sure that we’re not contributing to a dynamic that could become more and more unstable.”
Source: NewsMax Politics
President Trump, in remarks broadcast Sunday, said former President Obama “certainly must have known about” what he characterized as high-level efforts by “FBI guys that were low-lifes” and other intelligence operatives to undermine his presidency.
Speaking in a contentious interview with ABC News’ “This Week” anchor George Stephanopoulos, Trump blunted his accusation by adding, “I’m not gonna make that statement quite yet.” But, as two Justice Department inquiries actively probe the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation, Trump hinted more facts would soon come out.
“You clearly believe there was a group of people working against you,” Stephanopoulos asked. “Do you think President Obama was behind it?”
“I would say that he certainly must have known about it because it went very high up in the chain,” Trump responded. “But, you’re gonna find that out. I’m not gonna make that statement quite yet. But I would say that President Obama had to know about it.”
In May, Trump issued a memo giving Attorney General William Barr the authority to declassify any documents related to surveillance of the Trump campaign in 2016.
As part of its ongoing “multifaceted” and “broad” review into potential misconduct by U.S. intelligence agencies during the 2016 presidential campaign, the Justice Department revealed last week it also was investigating the activities of several “non-governmental organizations and individuals.”
After Trump pointed out he had turned over more than a million documents and chose not to exert executive privilege over any aspect of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, Stephanopoulos pressed Trump on his level of cooperation with investigators.
“You didn’t sit for an interview. You didn’t answer questions on obstruction,” Stephanopoulos, a former top aide to Bill Clinton, said.
“Now, wait a minute,” Trump shot back. “Wait a minute. I did answer questions. I answered them in writing.”
“Not on obstruction,” Stephanopoulos repeated twice.
“Look, George, you’re being a little wise guy, okay, which is, you know, typical for you,” Trump responded. “Just so you understand, very simple, it’s very simple, there was no crime. There was no collusion. The big thing’s collusion. Now, there’s no collusion. That means they set — it was a setup, in my opinion, and I think it’s gonna come out.”
Trump continued: “I hope it’s gonna come out. We are going to find out very soon, because I really believe it’s gonna come out. When you look at [Peter] Strzok, these FBI guys that were lowlifes, when you look — ’cause the FBI’s the greatest. But these — the top people were absolutely lowlifes. When you look at Strzok and [Lisa] Page and they’re talking about an insurance policy just in case she loses, that was the insurance policy,” referring to the former FBI agent and attorney.
The DOJ has announced that its probe, let by Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham, also was looking into the involvement of “foreign intelligence services.” Former Trump aide George Papadopoulos told Fox News last month that an informant who was likely “CIA and affiliated with Turkish intel” had posed as a Cambridge University research assistant in September 2016 and tried to “seduce him” to obtain information linking the Trump team to Russia.
The DOJ also has indicated it was looking closely at work performed by Fusion GPS, the firm retained by the Hillary Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee (DNC) to conduct opposition research against the Trump campaign.
Fusion GPS, in turn, hired British ex-spy Christopher Steele to produce an unverified and largely discredited dossier that the FBI went on to cite in secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court applications to surveil former Trump aide Carter Page.
Internal FBI text messages, obtained by Fox News, showed that FBI brass tussled with a senior DOJ official over the apparent “bias” of a key FISA source at that time. Reporting by The Hill, confirmed by Fox News, has since revealed that Steele met with a State Department official shortly before the FBI obtained the Page FISA. The official then promptly communicated numerous concerns about Steele’s credibility to the FBI, including that some of his claims were self-evidently false and that his client was “keen” to see his work product surface prior to Election Day.
Multiple sources familiar with the matter told Fox News that Durham has been “very dialed in” and “asking all the right questions.” Separately, sources within the Justice Department confirmed to Fox News that Barr has met “on multiple occasions in recent weeks” with Durham in Washington, D.C.
The DOJ’s internal watchdog has been conducting an independent inquiry into potential surveillance abuses and misconduct. Previously the DOJ Inspector General (IG) found numerous actual and apparent violations of policy by FBI officials and agents, including taking inappropriate gifts and leaking without authorization to the media.
In May, the IG released an investigative summary finding that an unnamed former FBI deputy assistant director engaged in “misconduct,” including leaking “sensitive” information to the media, violating federal law by disclosing sealed court records and taking a gift from someone in the media. The IG declined to recommend prosecution without explanation.
“Do you believe that President Obama spied on your campaign?” Stephanopoulos asked toward the end of the interview after Trump remarked that “a previous administration used the intelligence data and the intelligence agencies to spy on my campaign.”
“I don’t know,” Trump said. “But, hopefully we’re gonna find out.”
Source: Fox News Politics
HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Clutching signs and umbrellas against a drenching downpour, scores of people protested Sunday outside a South Florida facility that has become the nation’s biggest location for detaining immigrant children.
A coalition of religious groups and immigrant advocates said they want the Homestead detention center closed.
Protesters held signs that read “Homes Instead!” and “Stop Separating Families” as they beat drums and sang civil rights-era protest songs.
“Shut it down! Shut it down!” protesters shouted.
Lucy Duncan, an official with the American Friends Service Committee, asked protesters for a moment of silence to remember children who have died in federal custody, though not at the Homestead facility. She poured water into a potted plant as each of the seven names was read.
“It’s a moral outrage,” Duncan said. “We need for justice to break through. We need to remember those names.”
Organizer Kristin Kumpf said 800 people from 22 states had RSVP’d for the protest being held on Father’s Day.
Immigrant advocates have filed legal documents trying to force President Donald Trump’s administration to quickly release immigrant children from the Florida detention center, which officials said in April could house up to 3,200 migrant teens.
The advocates accuse the administration of violating a decades-old settlement that they say requires immigrant children to be promptly released to relatives or other sponsors, or sent to child care facilities.
The immigrant advocates have filed court papers with hundreds of pages of teens describing “prison-like” conditions endured in the Homestead facility.
The children testified that they are allowed limited phone calls and told to follow numerous strict rules or risk prolonging their detention or facing deportation. Many said they had limited access to their social workers and described frustration at the process of reunification with relatives or sponsors.
“The law is not being followed in this case,” said Danielle Levine Cava, a Miami-Dade County commissioner who spoke at the protest.
Source: Fox News National
Calling out conservatives slow to back the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund through the lives of first responders up to 2090, Jon Stewart ripped “agonizingly difficult” politics of Washington, calling Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell the “white whale” of 9/11 funding.
“I think this community is at the end of their rope,” Stewart told “Fox News Sunday.” “I think there’s a feeling of disbelief, that they can’t understand why they have to continually saddle up and ride down to Washington and make these appeals for something that should be simple but is somehow, through politics, made agonizingly difficult.”
Stewart’s appearance with “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace came Sunday following a visit to Congress where he made an impassioned plea for lawmakers to “do their job.”
“They did their jobs with courage, grace, tenacity, humility – 18 years later, do yours,” Stewart said during a tear-filled statement to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties.
The 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund is capped at $7.4 billion and will expire after 2020.
“In terms of getting the 9/11 bills passed, [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell has been the white whale of this since 2010,” Stewart told Wallace.
“. . . Not all Republicans oppose this, but everyone who has opposed it is a Republican, and it’s unacceptable. They’ve done it now for years, Sen. McConnell, Lindsey Graham is the one who is the head of Judiciary — he’s the one who’s going to be negotiating, whether it’s five or 10 years.
“We cannot make these individuals continue to live in the agonizing uncertainty of not knowing that these programs will be extended and that they will be able to move on with their lives.”
Source: NewsMax Politics
Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, unveiled another plan geared toward ending racial inequality on Saturday, pledging that as president he would vastly expand the federal government’s investment in women- and minority-owned businesses.
The 2020 hopeful claimed his plan would “unlock over half a trillion dollars” in resources and “spur the development of 200,000 new women and minority owned small businesses.” It also would redirect $100 billion in federal contracting toward small businesses, expand access to mentorship opportunities, open a public credit reporting agency and work through certain avenues to expand access to markets and capital.
“Beto understands the unique challenges facing small business owners – and that those challenges are only heightened for women entrepreneurs and people of color,” his campaign site read.
“Beto’s plan to inject capital and demand into America’s small businesses, confront institutional racism and increase federal investment in minority and women owned businesses will enable small business owners to do what they do best: grow the economy and create jobs.”
The announcement came as O’Rourke spoke at the Black Economic Alliance’s presidential forum along with fellow 2020 contenders Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., as well as Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J. and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.
O’Rourke in the past has acknowledged what he called the “privilege” he enjoyed as a straight, white male.
He indicated his privilege popped up when he appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair earlier this year, a decision for which he later expressed remorse. O’Rourke, in May, also announced proposals designed to address racial inequality in the classroom.
O’Rourke’s plan came as the Democratic Party has undergone an internal debate over the extent of its focus on identity politics before the 2020 presidential election. While presidential candidate Andrew Yang predicted that focus would cost the party electoral victories, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams both defended it.
“I would argue that identity politics is exactly who we are, and it’s exactly how we won,” Abrams said in May.
Source: Fox News Politics
“I think we are clearly there with the results of the special-counsel team,” he told CNN host Chris Cuomo on Thursday. “There are so many witnesses who could provide important essential testimony to Congress that can only be done in the scope of an impeachment inquiry.”
McCabe, whom then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired from the FBI in March 2018, made those comments as a small portion of House Democrats called for President Trump’s impeachment and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., pushed back on the idea.
Pelosi has said that if impeachment failed, it might hurt Democrats’ prospects of prosecuting him after he left office. However, McCabe said an inquiry was warranted even if it didn’t result in articles of impeachment or removal by the Senate.
“I think the American people have a right to hear from the witnesses and understand exactly what actions the president engaged in, and they have the opportunity to factor that information into their decisions, their voting decisions, whatever that might be going forward,” he said.
McCabe told CNN last February he thought it was “possible” Trump was a Russian asset. He’s also pushed back the Republicans’ narrative that Mueller’s report showed Trump didn’t commit any crimes.
“What has been billed as ‘no collusion, no obstruction’ should probably be recast as ‘no witch hunt’ and ‘no exoneration,'” he told MSNBC in May. Mueller’s report did not conclude either obstruction or conspiracy occurred but did raise a number of issues that provoked concerns from the left wing.
Source: Fox News Politics
WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Relatives discovered the bodies of four family members, including two children, with gunshot wounds at their home in central Iowa, police said.
The bodies were discovered Saturday morning at the home in West Des Moines, The Des Moines Register reported .
Authorities identified the victims as 44-year-old Lavanya Sunkara, 41-year-old Chandrasekhar Sunkara, and two boys aged 15 and 10 years, according to a police news release. Autopsies were being performed to determine the cause of death.
Real estate records indicate the family had owned the home since March.
West Des Moines police Sgt. Dan Wade said there was no threat to the community and that investigators were trying to determine exactly what happened. Police said the relatives who discovered the bodies — also two adults and two children — had been staying with the family as guests.
West Des Moines police and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation were investigating.
“This tragedy will impact family, friends, co-workers, anyone that knew this family,” Wade said. “We are continuing to work through this investigation. We will follow through until we have answered as many questions as the evidence allows.”
The Iowa Department of Public Safety said Chandrasekhar Sunkara worked for the department’s information technology unit for 11 years. He was not a sworn officer.
Source: Fox News National