Warren hits McConnell over student debt

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Wednesday slammed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) over student debt, accusing him of protecting tax breaks for billionaires instead of helping students seek higher education.

In an address to young adults at the Generation Progress national summit in Washington, Warren took aim at McConnell’s recent comments that students and parents should be more “cost-conscious” when looking at colleges.

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"Mitch McConnell believes that when it comes to a choice between protecting tax loopholes for billionaires or reducing student loan interest rates, that he will work to protect every last dollar of every last tax loophole,” said Warren.

“And then he tells students to dream a little smaller, to do with less, and to give up a little sooner. His vision for America is that no one reaches higher than they can already afford," she added.

Democrats have seized on McConnell’s remarks last week to constituents in Buckner, Ky., where he suggested that some students should consider attending less costly schools.

"Not everybody needs to go to Yale," McConnell had said.

"Is there anybody in here who has student loan debt who didn't go to Yale?" Warren asked Wednesday.

"Yeah, that looks like a lot of hands here," she continued.

Warren has been a vocal advocate for reducing student loan rates, proposing a bill that would have allowed millions to refinance to lower rates. But the legislation also included tax hikes on the wealthy to pay for the measure, leading to a GOP filibuster.

During a visit to Kentucky to campaign on behalf of Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, McConnell’s Democratic challenger, last month, Warren slammed McConnell for blocking her legislation.

Warren said the $1.2 trillion in outstanding student loan debt affected 40 million Americans, and would draw $66 billion in profits for the government.

To reduce interest rates for students and make up the difference, Warren proposed closing tax loopholes for those making more than $1 million per year.

"There is a choice that America will make and that choice is when there's tens of billions of dollars on the table, will the money be used to protect tax loopholes for millionaires and billionaires, or will that money be used to help people who are trying to get an education, who are trying to get a start in life," she said.

Other speakers at the event hosted by Generation Progress, the Center for American Progress' millennial outreach arm, included House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Vice President Biden.

Watch Warren's speech here beginning at the 18:30 mark.