By Justin Chermol
2020 presidential candidate John Hickenlooper, speaking on behalf of millennials, said that they can't get married, own a car, or buy a home because of a deepening student loans crisis.
"People say that millennials really don't want to own a home and settle down, they don't really want to own a car, they love transit," Hickenlooper, a Democrat, told Cheddar's Hope King at the Milken Conference on Wednesday. He went on to say, "That's nonsense. Millennials would love to get married and have a family, they just can't afford to! Millennials would love to buy a house, they're buried in debt!"
The former Colorado governor called the crisis a "drag on the economy" and discussed his plans to diminish the ongoing threat.
"I think the first thing, as president I would lower the interest rate down to 2.5 percent, or as low as I can get it, without taking any risk," Hickenlooper said.
Unlike some of Hickenlooper's progressive colleagues in the race, he did not offer a plan to go tuition free or erase debt entirely, which are two ideas that have gained strong traction among some of the 20 candidates running to unseat Donald Trump.
He also added, "Maybe one way to do this is what President Obama tried to do, is allow them to work in public service, and work off their debt."
As of this year, student loan debt has exceeded $1.5 trillion for the first time ever, surpassing both auto-loan and credit-card debt. And college enrollment continues to grow, with almost 70 percent of high school graduates aged 16 to 24 enrolled in a college or university, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Yet, as many young adults take to college for an education, they are forced into a lengthy cycle of paying back student loans afterwards. Some of these young adults may look to gigs ー like dog-walking, driving for Uber, or biking for Postmates ー to help pay down their debt.
Hickenlooper also weighed in on the rise of the gig economy. When asked if he was concerned, the presidential candidate said, "Yeah, of course."
A cloud-based accounting company FreshBooks, recently found that the number of Americans working for themselves will triple to 42 million people by 2020, largely driven by millennials who will make up 42 percent of growth.
And as majority gig-employing companies like Uber and Lyft, among others, file for massive IPOs, Hickenlooper explains that the executives getting rich off public funding should keep the gig workers in mind.
"These are companies that are concentrating huge amounts of wealth from the labor of these individuals," Hickenlooper said, "not paying any of their social security, the company's not paying any benefits, no retirement funds, I mean you can go down the list. No nothing."