The question the reporter asked Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Monday was fairly straightforward: Was canceling student debt part of his plans for the economy and would he take executive action to do so?
His answer came in a question and answer session after Mr Biden gave his first speech on the economy as president-elect.
“It‘s in my plan,” Biden replied, before referring to a law proposed by House Democrats that called for the immediate forgiveness of $ 10,000 in student loan debt as part of a pandemic bill. “It holds people back,” he said of student debt. “They have real problems. They have to make choices between paying their student loans and paying their rent, those kinds of decisions. It should be done immediately.
He then offered an overview of the plans he had presented during his campaign, including ensuring that anyone whose family earned less than $ 125,000 had access to free education.
But in his response, Biden did not say explicitly whether he supported the cancellation of all student loan debts. He has also not said whether he will cancel student loan debt with executive action – spurring on progressives, who have sought to push him further on the issue for months.
Social media quickly ignited with calls from the left for Mr Biden to cancel all student debt, an iconic political issue championed by progressive leaders including Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
Already, the idea of canceling student debt is gaining ground in the party. Mr Biden himself proposed a loan forgiveness program for public service workers: for each year of service, for up to five years, workers would be entitled to the elimination of $ 10,000 of their debt. undergraduate or graduate level.
And Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Minority Leader, said in a recent interview that he and Ms Warren had a proposal to eliminate the first $ 50,000 in student loan debt, and that he believed Mr Biden could do so through executive action within the first 100 days of his presidency.
“We believe Joe Biden can do this with the pen rather than with legislation,” Mr. Schumer said.