October 25, 2019 / 5:19 PM / 24 days ago

Presidential hopeful Klobuchar wants community college to be free but not four-year college

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) responds to a question from an audience member during a forum held by gun safety organizations the Giffords group and March For Our Lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. October 2, 2019. REUTERS/Steve Marcus/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar wants to make community college and programs designed to teach technical trades free, but stopped short of joining fellow Democratic hopefuls in backing proposals that would make a four-year college degree free.

Klobuchar, who has tried to embrace a moderate lane in the crowded Democratic presidential primary, has criticized some of her opponents, including Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, for pledging to make four-year college degrees free and erasing student debt.

The Minnesota senator saw her campaign get a small bump in October after a well-praised debate performance. She is competing in a field of 18 that has largely been divided between those who have embraced more centrist views, including Klobuchar, and a faction that is trumpeting sweeping liberal policy positions, like universal healthcare.

“We have to make college more affordable — but I don’t think that rich kids should get a free four-year degree funded by the taxpayers,” Klobuchar said on Twitter in June after being asked in the first Democratic debate about her opposition to free college.

Instead, in a plan that Klobuchar released on Friday, she called for making it easier for students to receive technical degrees in programs to train professions like plumbers and electricians.

She also called for expanding Pell Grants, the federal aid to low-income students, to allow those whose parents make up to $100,000 to qualify.

Many of Klobuchar’s proposals would require legislative changes, which could prove difficult even if some of them remain popular on both sides of the aisle.

To pay for her proposals, Klobuchar said she would raise capital gains and dividend rates for taxpayers in the top two income brackets. She said she would also limit the amount of capital gains that could be deferred through like-kind exchanges and would impose the so-called “Buffett Rule,” which would impose a minimum 30% tax on people with incomes over $1 million.

Republicans in Congress, including in the Senate which would likely have some influence even if Democrats were to take control, would likely strongly oppose raising taxes.

Reporting by Ginger Gibson in Washington; Editing by Matthew Lewis

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