DETROIT, Michigan — Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) were set up as the antagonists for the first night of the second Democratic debate. But they tag-teamed on the first question to pound former Rep. John Delaney (D-MD), who tried to defend the role of private health insurance.
The exchange began with a question from moderator Jake Tapper, who challenged Sanders to respond to Delaney’s criticism that “Medicare for All” would take away the health insurance currently enjoyed by half of the people in the country — that it was a form of “political suicide that will just get President Trump reelected.”
“You’re wrong,” Sanders said, drawing enthusiastic applause from the audience. He argued that Canada showed that universal, government-run health insurance was feasible. “Health care is a human right, not a privilege. I believe that. I will fight for that,” he declared.
Delaney countered: “I’m right about this. We can create a universal health care system to give everyone basic health care for free, and i have a proposal to do it, but we don’t have to go around and be the party of subtraction and telling half the country with private health insurance their health insurance is illegal.”
Warren interjected, scolding her rivals and saying that Democrats should not use “Republican talking points” to attack the idea of universal health care.
At that point, Tapper asked Warren whether she, like Sanders, would propose raising taxes on the middle class to pay for “Medicare for All.” She dodged the question, as did South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
“I don’t think my colleagues understand business,” Delaney responded. He said that while he agreed with the principle that health care was a universal human right, he wanted to provide it without relying on the government and without raising taxes.
Buttigieg drew applause when he said that Democrats should stop worrying that Republicans would call them “a bunch of crazy socialists,” and just “stand up for the right policy.”
Sanders drew applause again when he scolded Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH), who noted that “Medicare for All” would void union contracts that included high-quality private health insurance.
Newcomer Steve Bullock, the Democratic governor of red-state Montana, accused Sanders, Warren, and those who agreed with them of “wish list economics.”
Whether the audience at home agreed or not, “Medicare for All” dominated on the debate stage.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.