The Health-Care Debate Gets Nasty

Those who thought the Democrats resembled an undifferentiated mass of nice people who love low deductibles were treated to some fireworks during tonight’s debate. It was the first time the Democrats started seriously attacking one another since the debates first began, in June. And the ground they chose to do battle on was an expected one: health care.

The evening struck an early snarky note when Mayor Pete Buttigieg gave Andrew Yang side-eye for promising to give away 10 of his “freedom dividends”—otherwise known as $1,000—through an online raffle. “It’s original, I’ll give you that,” Buttigieg said dryly after Yang made the announcement.

Once the health-care segment got under way, the gloves came off and the knives came out. Health care is one of the most important issues for Democratic voters, and the candidates used it to rile one another up, snipe at their differences, and eventually even debate how mean they should be to one another in the first place.

Joe Biden highlighted the fact that his health-care plan, which would allow Americans to keep their private health insurance, would be cheaper than either Senator Elizabeth Warren’s or Senator Bernie Sanders’s. Warren responded with, “I’ve actually never met anybody who likes their health-insurance company,” a retort to the common claim that her plan would yank away insurance plans people are already happy with. Sanders followed up later by saying, “Maybe you’ve run into people who loooove their premiums.” Could he be any more ready for single-payer?

Senator Amy Klobuchar then went in on Sanders’s token line from a previous debate: that he “wrote the damn bill” on Medicare for All. “While Bernie wrote the bill, I read the bill, and on page 8, it says that we will no longer have private insurance as we know it,” Klobuchar said with a sly grin. Buttigieg then jumped into the fray, saying, “The damn bill that [Sanders] wrote, and that Senator Warren backs … doesn’t trust the American people.”

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