Tonight is the eleventh Democratic debate. This time only Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden were on the debate stage. And because of coronavirus concerns, there wasn’t an audience. Who do you think won tonight’s debate? Vote in the poll, which is at the end of this article.
Early questions focused on the coronavirus, as expected.
Sanders said that if he were President now, he would tell people they don’t need to worry about the cost of their health care, because he would make sure everyone could get the care they need.
Biden was asked about the idea of a national quarantine. He said he would handle things like he did in his administration and call in all the experts. “With all due respect for Medicare for All, you have a single-payer system in Italy. It doesn’t work there. That does not solve the problem at all.”
Both agreed that no one should have to pay for treatment.
Sanders said: “The dysfunctionality of the current healthcare system is abundantly apparent… When we spend twice as much per capita on healthcare as any other nation, one might expert … we are preparing effectively for a pandemic. We are not.”
Biden disagreed and said they passed a law saying no one would have to pay for treatment. But Sanders disagreed and said the law had enormous loopholes and not everyone was necessarily being covered.
Sanders said we need to not only respond aggressively to the virus, but also to the global economic fallout. “What happens to the workers who may end up losing their jobs? … If the fed can provide a trillion-and-a-half for liquidity for the banks. We need to say to each worker, don’t panic.”
Biden said he would pull out the military now to provide surge help that hospitals and others need. “They’ve done it. They did in the ebola crisis. They have a capacity to build 500-bed hospitals…that are completely safe and secure… I would call out the military.”
When asked about a possible recession, Biden said: “We are gonna have to have a major, major, major bailout package – we do not reward corporations, we reward individuals who are really put to the test… The ability for us to use levers available to use before have been used up by this god-awful tax code.”
He said we need to make sure medical bills, mortgage, and childcare are covered, but we will have to go beyond that.
He said millionaires are going to be OK, but half of the people in the U.S. are working paycheck to paycheck. “The lesson to learn is we have got to move aggressively … as a result of the coronavirus. What we’ve got to do also is understand the fragility of the economy and how unjust and unfair it is that so few have so much.”
Biden said we can’t have a revolution now, but we can take care of needs.
Later in the debate, in answer to a question, Sanders said he has opposed authoritarianism whether Cuba or Russia or anywhere. “That is my life record,” he said. “What I believe right now in this world, is that we are faced with a global crisis and a movement toward authoritarianism… We condemn authoritarianism… but to simply say nothing ever done by any of those administrations had a positive impact on their people would be incorrect.”
Biden, facing a similar question, said: “China is an authoritarian dictatorship… It’s been marginal the changes taking place…” He insisted that such governments should not be praised in any way, while Sanders believed it was OK to point out the occasional thing they improve.
Sanders elaborated. “President Obama was more generous in his praise of what Cuba did in healthcare and education than what I did… I was condemning the dictatorship in Saudi Arabia when a lot of other people in Washington (and) you were not.”
Sanders’ closing message about the coronavirus included, in part: “We need to move aggressively to make sure every person in this country who has the virus… has all the healthcare they need because they are Americans. That we move aggressively to make sure test units are out there, the ventilators are out there… In this moment of economic uncertainty, it is time to ask how did we get to where we are? Not only our lack of preparation, but how did we end up with an economy where so many people are hurting?”
He said we need a nation where we care about each other, not one focused on greed.
Biden’s closing message included the following: “Number one…I just can’t imagine what people are going through right now who have lost someone already… A good friend of ours is sitting outside a window of a nursing home of where her mom is because she can’t go in… This is an all-hands-on-deck… This is bigger than any individual… This is about America, this is about the world… First and foremost what we have to do is start to listen to the science again… What are the prescriptive moves we can take now to lessen the virus? … And then what do we do beyond that to make sure the economic impact on them is in fact rendered harmless?”
Who do you think won the debate? Was it the candidate who had the best jokes, the one who made the best policy argument, or someone who seemed to rise above a tougher moment?
Now that you’ve read the article, vote in Heavy’s poll below. Who do you think won the debate between Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden?