A big issue this week in Washington has been the question of whether President Biden will keep his campaign promise of forgiving some student debt.
The president has not announced any plans to cancel debt, nor has he included anything about debt cancellation in his major proposals for spending packages, or in his proposed federal budget.
Biden did order a legal review, by the Department of Education, into the question of whether the president can take executive action to cancel some student debt, although there’s been no announcement about the outcome of that review.
Now, one of the more prominent progressives in Congress is calling for the president to take that step.
“During the Obama admin, folks thought we’d have a 60 Dem majority for a while. It lasted 4 months,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York said on Twitter Wednesday, in reference to bipartisan talks on infrastructure and other issues. “Dems are burning precious time & impact negotiating w/GOP who won’t even vote for a Jan 6 commission. McConnell’s plan is to run out the clock. It’s a hustle. We need to move now.”
In a subsequent tweet, the Congresswoman addressed the student debt issue specifically.
“Additionally, the Senate blockages make Biden’s unwillingness to act on student loan debt-something he can do *without* Congress but hasn’t yet - all the more glaring,” she said. "#CancelStudentDebt is 1 of the few, rare opportunities Biden has to go big w/o the Senate. He needs to take it.”
Biden has not at any point promised to take executive action. But since the issue hasn’t even been introduced in negotiations with Republicans in Congress, the debt cancellation coming to fruition would seem more likely to take place through executive action.
The second half of the Congresswoman’s tweet had been retweeted more than 2,000 times in the 40 minutes after it was posted. Ocasio-Cortez has 12.7 million Twitter followers, which as of earlier this year was the third-most of any member of Congress and the most in the House of Representatives. Only Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, both Senators who ran for president in 2020, have more followers.
Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, like Sanders, has worked with the Biden Administration at times, while at other terms criticizing its actions from the left. AOC, for instance, has called for a much larger infrastructure bill than the one proposed by the administration, while also criticizing the Biden team for failing to include a $15 minimum wage in the American Rescue Plan Act earlier this year.
Others, including the NAACP, have been critical of the president for not yet coming through with student debt cancellation.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist, and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.