Americans for Tax Reform's Grover Norquist told CNBC on Monday that Sen. Bernie Sanders' plan to eliminate outstanding student loan debt in the country ignores the real problem of going to college.
The Vermont independent's legislation seeks to cancel $1.6 trillion in existing loans by taxing stock and bond transactions. Norquist took a jab at Sanders, who advocates for raising taxes on the top earners in the United States, saying that the program would be a "significant transfer of wealth" from those who don't go to college to those who have attended.
"You're paying for something that already happened, so there is no incentive effects at all in terms of people's behavior," the founder and president of the conservative advocacy group said on "Closing Bell." "It doesn't get to the problem: College costs too much and doesn't do a very good job of preparing people for jobs."
Sanders, who is also running for the Democratic nomination in order to win the White House in 2020, expects the tax on Wall Street could bring in about $2.4 trillion over the next decade to cover the tab. But Norquist questioned the plan's ability to raise that much money, "so you just end up increasing debt."
The cost of attending four-year universities in the United States has skyrocketed in recent decades. Norquist blamed the increases over the past 25 years on the number of "bureaucrats" he said colleges have hired instead of teachers. He also said there are too many colleges that don't offer students enough of the skills they need to pay off their debt upon graduation.
That's why "people don't whine" when they take out a mortgage, because it is paying for something that's "worth having," the anti-tax crusader said.
"It's a thing of value," Norquist said. "You can go to a number of colleges in this country and take all the courses and pass and not have a skill that makes enough money to pay back the debt and all the money you spent for colleges."