Elizabeth Warren Has a Plan To Counter Evil ISPs With Public Broadband

Illustration for article titled Elizabeth Warren Has a Plan To Counter Evil ISPs With Public Broadband

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Not everyone in the US has access to the internet, and that’s largely because the internet service providers that govern these systems are money-hungry, discriminatory, and, frankly, evil. Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has a plan to strip some of that power away from ISPs through the creation of publicly-owned broadband.

On Wednesday, Senator Warren published a Medium post—My Plan to Invest in Rural America—which included a breakdown on how she hopes to develop a public alternative to internet access. The plan intends to help communities most often disenfranchised by costly and geographically-limited broadband access. These include low-income households as well as rural and poor neighborhoods.

Warren’s plan involves a few moving parts. First, she wrote that she would pass federal legislation that would allow municipalities to build their own broadband networks. Second, she would create an Office of Broadband Access under the Department of Economic Development to oversee an $85 billion federal grant program that builds out the infrastructure needed for high-speed internet. Electricity and telephone cooperatives, non-profits, tribes, cities, counties, and state subdivisions are the only groups that can apply for these funds, emphasizing the push to bring these systems into areas presently underserved.

Warren wrote that the federal government will cover 90 percent of the cost of construction for these grants and that institutions that receive this funding will have to provide public internet to every home in the stated area. What’s more, these grant recipients will also have to have at least one discounted plan. There will also be $5 billion dedicated to grants for tribal nations, specifically to bring broadband internet to Native American lands and build out thousands of miles of internet infrastructure on these lands that are, to date, unserved.

For fiscal hawks, Warren briefly outlined her plan to pay for the initiative, writing:

The cost of each and every one of these investments is fully offset by my plans to make the ultra-wealthy and large corporations pay more in taxes. Those plans include my annual two-cent wealth tax on fortunes over $50 million and my plan to ensure that very large and profitable American corporations can’t get away with paying zero taxes. And the new investments I’m announcing today for universal broadband access and health care options in rural areas can be offset by changing the tax laws that encourage companies to merge and reduce competition.

The plan also extends beyond simply providing funds and construction for broadband internet, it also details a number of ways in which Warren will crackdown on shitty and unjust ISP practices. She said that she’ll appoint FCC Commissioners dedicated to the restoration of net neutrality and transparency around broadband maps—they will require ISPs to submit reports related to internet service, speeds, and aggregated pricing, which will then be made public and regularly audited. The plan also involves ramping up the FCC’s Office of Native Affairs and Policy and passing the Digital Equity Act, both of which invest time and money into bridging the digital divide.

“I will make sure every home in America has a fiber broadband connection at a price families can afford,” Warren wrote in the post. “That means publicly-owned and operated networks — and no giant ISPs running away with taxpayer dollars.”

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Elizabeth Warren just vowed to scrap student loan debt for 42 million Americans

Elizabeth Warren just vowed to scrap student loan debt for 42 million Americans

Elizabeth Warren

Sen. Elizabeth Warren proposed eliminating student debt for millions of Americans.

(AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

In an appeal to younger voters, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic presidential candidate, has proposed wiping out student-loan debt for good for millions of Americans.

In a blog post published Monday, Warren, who announced her bid for president in February, proposed canceling up to $50,000 in student-loan debt for 42 million Americans. She said her plan would wipe out that debt for more than 75% of Americans with student loans, using funds from her proposed “ultra-millionaire” wealth tax, a 2% annual tax for families with more than $50 million.

The plan would also spur an economic stimulus that would increase homebuying and create new businesses, Warren argued.

Read more: Apple, Google, and Netflix don’t require employees to have 4-year degrees, and this could soon become an industry norm

Warren proposed canceling up to $50,000 in student-loan debt for every person with household income under $100,000, phasing out by $1 for every $3 of income between $100,000 and $250,000. Warren said her plan would cost the government about $640 billion.

“We got into this crisis because state governments and the federal government decided that …  they’d rather cut taxes for billionaires and giant corporations and offload the cost of higher education onto students and their families,” Warren wrote, adding, “It’s time to end that experiment.”

The total amount that young people owe exceeded $1 trillion last year, their highest debt exposure since immediately before the financial crisis. What’s worse is that despite low unemployment, a significant number of graduates are working low-paying jobs, and their wage growth has stalled for years.

Some economists have predicted that 40% of borrowers might default on their student loans by 2023, which could have economic effects similar to those of the subprime-mortgage crisis.

The crisis, as Warren said, has hit black and brown families harder than white families. Black graduates default at five times the rate of white graduates, and a recent Wall Street Journal report found that graduates of historically black colleges had 32% more debt than students at other colleges and that most had not paid any debt in their first few years out of school.

Warren also proposed that federal and state governments partner to subsidize the cost of all public colleges and invest an additional $100 billion in Pell Grants to help pay for non-tuition expenses.

“The enormous student debt burden weighing down our economy isn’t the result of laziness or irresponsibility,” Warren wrote. “It’s the result of a government that has consistently put the interests of the wealthy and well-connected over the interests of working families.”

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