Tuesday night’s debate mirrored the ongoing battle between moderates and the ultra-left within the Democrat Party. The two most progressive candidates resurrected an age-old tactic to take down their moderate colleagues: Accuse them of using “Republican talking points.”
When challenged on the viability of their lofty ideas – such as free college and Medicare for All – ultra-progressive candidates accused their opponents – whether a fellow candidate or in one case, the moderator – of using “Republican talking points.”
Two candidates used that tactic Tuesday night– Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
“Republican Talking Point” #1:
The first accusation came after a heated back and forth between Warren, Sanders, and John Delaney (D) on Medicare for All.
“We can create a universal health care system to give everyone basic health care for free, and I have a proposal to do it,” Delaney, who opposes abolishing private insurance altogether, stated.
“But we don’t have to go around and be the party of subtraction, and telling half the country, who has private health insurance, that their health insurance is illegal,” he continued.
“Why do we got to be the party of taking something away from people?” he asked.
Warren eventually jumped in and accused Delaney of using “Republican talking points” for pointing out that their Medicare for All plans would take private insurance away from millions of Americans.
“Let’s be clear about this. We are the Democrats. We are not about trying to take away health care from anyone. That’s what the Republicans are trying to do,” Warren claimed.
“And we should stop using Republican talking points in order to talk with each other about how to best provide that health care,” she added.
“Republican Talking Point” #2:
During the debate, CNN moderator Jake Tapper asked the candidates if they believed the middle class should pay higher taxes “in exchange for universal coverage and the elimination of insurance premiums.” Some candidates did not bite. Beto O’Rourke (D) told Tapper that the middle class should not pay more in taxes and said Americans were “being offered a false choice.” Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), who opposes Medicare for All, said, “I just have a better way to do this.”
Sanders was incensed at the way they framed his Medicare for All plan and rebuked Jake Tapper, accusing him of using a Republican talking point for mentioning his previous confession that his plan would result in higher taxes for middle-class Americans.
“As the author of the Medicare bill, let me clear up one thing. As people talk about having insurance, there are millions of people who have insurance, they can’t go to the doctor, and when they come out of the hospital, they go bankrupt. All right?” Sanders began.
“What I am talking about and others up here are talking about is no deductibles and no co-payments.,” he continued. “And, Jake, your question is a Republican talking point.”:
"Jake, your question is a Republican talking point. The health care industry will be advertising TONIGHT on this program with that talking point" Bernard Sanders of Vermont #DemDebate pic.twitter.com/5Dhj2Ir5NZ
— People for Bernie (@People4Bernie) July 31, 2019
“Republican Talking Point” #3:
Far-left candidates got into a clash with moderates on how to properly address the “climate crisis.” Dana Bash asked candidates about the Green New Deal, which Delaney openly opposes.
Delaney said that he opposes the plan because it “ties its progress to other things that are completely unrelated to climate, like universal health care, guaranteed government jobs, and universal basic income.”
Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper took on the far-left’s support for the Green New Deal as well, calling the plan’s “guarantee for a public job for everyone” a “distraction.”
His plan, he claimed, is much more “realistic.”
My plan, which gets us to net zero by 2050, which we absolutely have to do for our kids and our grandkids, will get us there. I put a price on carbon, take all the money, give it back to the American people in a dividend. That was introduced by me on a bipartisan basis. It’s the only significant bipartisan climate bill in the Congress.
I’m going to increase the Department of Energy research budget by fivefold, because we fundamentally have to innovate our way out of this problem. I’m going to create a market for something called direct air capture, which are machines that actually take carbon out of the atmosphere, because I don’t think we’ll get to net zero by 2050 unless we have those things. I’m going to increase investment in renewables and I’m going to create something called the Climate Corps.
Warren took issue with their critiques, once again assigning them as Republican talking points (emphasis added):
Look, I put a real policy on the table to create 1.2 million new jobs in green manufacturing. There’s going to be a $23 trillion worldwide market for this. This could revitalize huge cities across this country. And no one wants to talk about it. What you want to do instead is find the Republican talking point of a made-up piece of some other part and say, “Oh, we don’t really have to do anything. That’s the problem we’ve got in Washington right now.
During a segment on free college, Bash asked self-help guru Marianne Williamson if the government should pay for children from wealthier families to go to college. Williamson explained that “all domestic and international policies” should be based on the idea that “anything we do to help people thrive is a stimulation to our economy.”
Relieving students of college debt will, in fact, give young people relief and therefore stimulate the economy, Williamson assessed.
“If we get rid of this college debt, think of all the young people who will have the discretionary spending; they’ll be able to start their business. The best thing you could do to stimulate the U.S. economy is to get rid of this debt,” she said.
While she did not specifically use the phrase “Republican talking point,” the sentiment was there as she took aim at her Democrat critics.
“This is not just about a plan to do it. It’s about a philosophy of governing,” she said.
“And I’ve heard some people here tonight, I almost wonder why you’re Democrats. You seem to think there’s something wrong about using the instruments of government to help people. That is what government should do,” she added:
"I almost wonder why you're Democrats," Marianne Williamson tells her fellow presidential candidates. "You seem to think there's something wrong about using the instruments of government to help people." #DemDebate https://t.co/WRCW9SqFlV pic.twitter.com/oV8BtQE7Ha
— CNN (@CNN) July 31, 2019
Round two of the second debate airs on CNN and kicks off at 8 p.m. ET.