Sanders: Buttigieg is 'wrong' about college affordability

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersKenosha will be a good bellwether in 2020 Biden's fiscal program: What is the likely market impact? McConnell accuses Democrats of sowing division by 'downplaying progress' on election security MORE (I-Vt.) hit back at South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegBipartisan praise pours in after Ginsburg's death Bogeymen of the far left deserve a place in any Biden administration Overnight Defense: Woodward book causes new firestorm | Book says Trump lashed out at generals, told Woodward about secret weapons system | US withdrawing thousands of troops from Iraq MORE (D) after Buttigieg criticized Sanders’s plan to fund public college tuition.

Buttigieg has repeatedly criticized Sanders’s plan and said that those who can afford the cost of college tuition should not benefit from a universal public college and trade school program. On the campaign trail Monday, he said that “rich people ought to pay their own tuition” when asked by NBC News reporter Priscilla Thompson.  

He added that he’s worried about a “narrative emerging that ignores the fact that not everybody goes to college,” saying a message could be sent to all Americans that you “need a college degree to get by in life.” 

But Sanders told Chris Hayes in an interview Thursday night, “I say Buttigieg is wrong on both counts.”

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“Number one, of course, when we talk about making higher education, public colleges and universities, tuition free, we mean not only college, but we mean trade schools as well. There are millions of good jobs out there in construction and all kinds of areas where people are good at working with their hands, they don’t want to go to college, and of course we are going to make tuition free for those people, so what he’s saying is not accurate,” Sanders said.

Sanders also joked that he’s glad Buttigieg “is worried that I have been too easy on upper-income people” and pointed out that wealthy people already have access to free public K-12 education.

“Trump’s kids can go to any public school, elementary school or high school in the country tuition free,” Sanders said.

“But the point is, I happen to believe that when you talk about programs like Social Security, like health care, like higher education, they should be universal. The way you pay for them, and the way I do it, not the way Buttigieg does it, is I do demand that at a time of massive income and wealth equality, that the very rich will start paying their fair share of taxes, as will corporate America. You pay for it by raising revenue from the very rich, but then you say in a very simple way that any person who wants a higher education — college, trade school — should be able to do it. Right now, that’s what we do with Social Security. It is a popular program. It is a universal program,” he continued.

Buttigieg has proposed limiting free public college tuition to American households with incomes of $100,000 a year or less. He has also called for $50 billion in new investments in historically black colleges and universities and minority-serving institutions.