What Bernie needs to do right now
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Bernie needs to win something like 68% of the remaining primary votes to take the lead in earned delegates from Hillary.  This is a tall order.  If he actually is serious about taking the nomination,  he needs to break some new ground on the policy side.

He has essentially fought Hillary to a draw on the student loan issue.  Both candidates are proposing schemes to make public college "tuition free", and most voters can't really distinguish between the two plans.  While I am skeptical that either of these plans would actually reduce borrowing, the critical fact is that neither of these plans do anything for the 44 million people who have already been through school, and are now saddled with nearly $1.5 Trillion in debt from which nearly every standard consumer protection has been removed. 

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For federal student loans, there are essentially no bankruptcy protections, no statutes of limitations, no usury laws, no truth-in-lending laws, exemptions from Fair Debt Collection Practices, and a mafia-like collection regime that makes defaulted loans far more profitable to the lending system in many if not most cases. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren: Education Dept lawyer may have violated conflict-of-interest laws Congress should think twice on the Israel Anti-Boycott Act Sanders plans to introduce single-payer bill in September MORE had it right when she said students were being served up like "turkeys at the Thanksgiving Dinner".

The only thing these candidates propose for people already saddled with student loans are lame refinancing plans.  Hillary's plan, for example, would only save about $2000 for the average borrower over the life of the loans, and as interest rates rise, the savings will be even less.  To say that these plans are underwhelming is an understatement.  It is more accurate to say that 44 million voters are being thrown under the bus.

Bernie should immediately call for, at a minimum, the return of standard bankruptcy protections to all student loans.  After all, student loans are the only loan in our nation's history to be stripped of this protection, and the inflationary spiral, and predatory lending system that it has caused demonstrate clearly the wisdom of the Founders when they called for a uniform bankruptcy system ahead of a judiciary, an army, navy, and even ahead of the power to coin currency when giving Congress its powers in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution.

While very few people want to file for bankruptcy, and very few would with student loans treated the same as all other loans in bankruptcy proceedings, all of the 44 million voters currently under the weight of this predatory lending system understand the importance of having this protection in their corner, and would appreciate greatly the candidate who joins people like David Brooks, Robert Reich, and groups like the Cato Institute, Demos, and others across the political spectrum in calling for this. 

I really don't see anything else that could give Bernie the groundswell he needs going forward, all else being equal. 


Collinge is founder of StudentLoanJustice.Org and author of The Student Loan Scam (Beacon Press)