WASHINGTON – The second debate in the second round of Democratic presidential debates, which took place on Wednesday night, did not include Sen. Bernie Sanders, but Sanders’ “Medicare for All” health care plan was front and center.
This was most evident in a confrontation between the frontrunner, former Vice President Joe Biden, and Sen. Kamala Harris of California.
Harris is a co-sponsor of Sanders’ plan but she has wavered in her support for it. Biden outright opposes the plan.
Harris explained why she supports the plan and her proposal to make it work.
“I listened to the American families who said four years is just not enough to transition into this new plan, so I devised a plan where it’s going to be 10 years of a transition, I listened to American families who said I want an option that will be under your Medicare system that allows a private plan.”
Biden proceeded to criticize Harris for her inconsistencies and dismissed the feasibility of her plan.
“My response is that the senator has had several plans so far. And any time someone tells you you’re going to get something good in 10 years, you should wonder why it takes 10 years.”
He added: “If you noticed, there is no talk about the fact that the plan in 10 years will cost $3 trillion. You will lose your employer-based insurance. And in fact, you know, this is the single most important issue facing the public. And to be very blunt and to be very straightforward, you can’t beat President Trump with double-talk on this plan.”
Biden has introduced a health care plan that would expand the Affordable Care Act. It would provide a public option similar to Medicare for those who want it, but would allow those who have private insurance to keep their plan.
Medicare for All would most likely render private health insurance obsolete. Biden’s plan would cost an estimated $750 million over 10 years and would be funded by tax hikes on the wealthy, according to his campaign. Harris has said her plan would maintain private health care insurance.
During the first round of debates in June, Biden and Harris butted heads after she challenged the former Delaware senator’s record on civil rights. Harris’ poll numbers increased in the immediate aftermath of the first debate but have since returned to their previous standing. A recent YouGov survey showed Harris in fourth place, with the support of 10% of registered Democratic voters.
Eight other candidates were included in Wednesday night’s debate. They are: Sens. Cory Booker (N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), and Michael Bennet (Colo.), New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, entrepreneur Andrew Yang, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii), former HUD Secretary Julian Castro, and Gov. Jay Inslee (Wash.).
Sanders participated in Tuesday night’s debate along with nine other candidates.
CNN moderated both debates.