Sen. Elizabeth Warren came under fire from her more moderate opponents in Tuesday night’s Democratic debate, who challenged her plan for “Medicare for all” and her wealth tax proposal.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke took on Warren more forcefully than they have in previous debates. Buttigieg called her out for her refusal to give a “yes or no” answer on whether her health plan will result in higher taxes, and argued it would be risky to kick people off private insurance.
Klobuchar faulted her for offering a “pipe dream,” and credited Sen. Bernie Sanders for acknowledging that “Medicare for all” will mean higher taxes, though he said those would be more than offset by eliminating premiums, co-pays and deductibles.
“At least Bernie’s being honest here and saying how he’s going to pay for this,” Klobuchar said. “I think we owe it to the American people to tell them where we will send the invoice.”
O’Rourke and Buttigieg sought to pitch themselves as uniters, suggesting that Warren’s proposals will only deepen partisan divisions in the country.
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“Sometimes I think Sen. Warren is more focused on being punitive or pitting some part of the country against the other,” O’Rourke said, “instead of lifting people up and making sure that this country comes together around those solutions.”
Warren countered that under her plan, health care costs will go down for middle class Americans. She criticized Buttigieg’s plan — which he calls “Medicare for all who want it” — saying it would leave some people unable to afford decent insurance. And she gave a broader defense of having ambitious goals.
“I think as Democrats, we are going to succeed when we dream big and fight hard, not when we fight small and quit before we get started,” she said.
Sen. Cory Booker urged the other candidates to lower the temperature on the debate, saying that internal divisions could prove as costly in 2020 as they were in 2016.
“Tearing each other down because we have a different plan is unacceptable,” he said.
Earlier, the candidates broadly agreed that President Trump should be impeached for pressuring Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden. Biden was asked whether it was appropriate for his son to hold a board seat on a Ukrainian energy company, which Trump and his allies have argued was corrupt.
“My son did nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong,” Biden said. “I carried out the policy of the United States government in rooting out corruption in Ukraine.”