Elizabeth Warren says student loan debate ‘boils down to three words: billionaires or students’

Democratic U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts speaks to a group of supporters at a rally in support of Kentucky democratic candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes, Sunday, June 29, 2014 at the University of Louisville in Louisville, Ky. Warren has been canvassing the country following a failed vote in the U.S. Senate that would have allowed some people to refinance their student loan debt to take advantage of lower interest rates. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

Democratic U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts speaks to a group of supporters at a rally in support of Kentucky democratic candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes, Sunday, June 29, 2014 at the University of Louisville in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) framed the student loan debate as a choice of either “billionaires or students” Wednesday morning, and urged a gathering of youth to confront lawmakers who she says have chosen the former.

Warren spoke to a crowd at the progressive Make Progress National Summit in Washington, D.C., lobbying for her student loan bill, the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act. The legislation, which failed to advance in the Senate this spring, would reduce the interest rates of certain student loan debtors and pay for the lost government revenue with a tax hike on the wealthy, the “Buffett Rule.”

“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,” Warren said. “In other words, this one really does boil down to three words: billionaires or students? Which way is this country going? Which way do our values go on this?”

The liberal standard bearer described the student loan fight as “the tip of the spear” that would open the floodgates for myriad progressive causes, and said it would take a significant lobbying effort from youth to get there. She asked those in attendance to badger lawmakers who oppose her measure with the billionaires versus students narrative.

“Ask them why they think that it is more important to stick young people with high interest rates on student loans than it is to ask millionaires and billionaires to pay a fair share of taxes. Ask them why they think they work for billionaires instead of for young people who are trying to build a future. Ask them those questions.”

Raffi Williams, a spokesperson for the Republican National Committee, dismissed Warren’s talk as “politics.”

“Instead of playing politics with a serious issue, Warren and her fellow Democrats should put forth real solutions and stop ignoring the dozens of House-passed, pro-growth bills that will help students afford their student loan bills,” Williams told Red Alert Politics.

Warren’s bill went down in a 56-38 procedural vote in June, falling four votes short of a 60-vote threshold needed to move the legislation forward. The measure can be brought up again this year, and she and fellow Democrats have vowed to keep the issue alive.

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