By Mark Gruenberg
WESTERVILLE, Ohio: If there’s one issue the Democratic presidential hopefuls seemed to agree upon in their nationally televised debate on October 15, it’s the absolute need for an impeachment inquiry against their foe, incumbent GOP President Donald Trump. And, they said, the country agrees.
The impeachment inquiry wasn’t the sole point of unity of 12 speakers on the stage. Another was defending reproductive rights, by writing the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v Wade ruling more than 40 years ago into law.
But if those were the two big points of agreement in the latest nationally televised, party-planned Democratic debate, Medicare for All, wasn’t, again.
All but two of the other ten hopefuls challenged Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on the issue. They claimed both would raise middle-class families’ taxes to pay for the government-run universal health care. Warren said taxes would go up on the rich and on corporations, not the middle class.
Sanders, who again declared “I wrote the damn bill,” said middle-class taxes would rise. But he reminded the crowd that middle-class workers and taxpayers would see net gains, through the elimination of private health insurers and their co-pays, deductibles, profits, denial of care and forced family bankruptcies. Nobody challenged the other Medicare-for-All backer, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., about it.
By contrast, all agreed on the strong protection of reproductive rights. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., not only cited Roe v Wade, but said her Justice Department would subject restrictive state anti-choice laws to constitutional challenge. She also chided her colleagues for not discussing the issue before.
“This is the sixth debate we’ve had there has been not one word about the full-on attack” by the GOP and the religious right on the right to choose, Harris declared, answering the Medicare-for-All question. And poor women of color are a disproportionate share of victims of such attacks, she pointed out. “People need to keep their hands off of women’s bodies,” Harris declared.
Besides the Medicare-for-All joust and the reproductive rights agreement, the three-hour-seven-minute debate featured a lively performance by Sanders, far more robust than that of former Vice President Joe Biden who, until recently was running first in the polls. Warren edged him pout of that first-place position in the last week or two.
Sanders declared his campaign would keep going strong. He invited viewers to a mass rally in New York City during the weekend of Oct. 19-20. Sanders, Warren and former Vice President Joseph Biden top current opinion polls, though there is still a large share of undecided Democrats.
And Sanders again differentiated himself from fellow progressive Warren on the basic issue of the nature of the U.S. system.
The Vermonter proudly reiterated that what the nation needs – and he leads – is a “political revolution” to replace the “unfettered” capitalist system with what he and his supporters have called “democratic socialism.” In calling last night for the current system to be replaced with one that meets people’s needs he did not, however, use the actual words “democratic socialism.”
Forcing his way into a discussion about the opioid crisis when the moderator instead wanted to discuss his age the rambunctious Sanders, accused the pharmaceutical companies of “selling a product to communities all over this country which were addicting people and killing them.
“And last year,” Sanders declared, “the top 10 drug companies made $69 billion in profit. This is what unfettered capitalism is doing to this country. And it’s not just the drug companies. Right now the CEOs in the fossil fuel industry know full well that their product is destroying the world. And they continue to make huge profits. This is why we need a political revolution that says ‘enough is enough to this behavior’.”
Though Sanders didn’t announce it during the debate, he had picked up endorsements the same day from three of “The Squad,” the first-term female U.S. representatives who are women of color and strong progressives: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York City, Ilhan Omar of the Twin Cities and Rashida Tlaib of Detroit. The fourth squad member, Ayanna Presley of Boston, is neutral so far.
Warren came out strong in her calls during the debater for massive reform of the economic and political system. She aimed her fire at the 1%, who, she declared, have bought, paid for and rigged the government at the expense of the rest of us.
Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke said that Warren pits one group or class against another “at times” and alleged that in doing so she runs the risk of further dividing the country. She denied the class war charge and said she’s not against people becoming rich. But, Warren declared, their riches come from using services paid for by all of us – such as roads and fire and police protection – and it’s time the rich should pay their fair share for those benefits.
Biden Joe said it’s not just Ukraine where Trump has violated the law. “This president has on three occasions invited foreign governments to interfere in our elections,” he noted. That refers to, though not by name, to Trump requests to Russia and China, plus Ukraine.
The only partial dissenter on impeachment was Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii. While she agreed on launching an impeachment inquiry, she warned that actual House impeachment followed by a trial, but not conviction, in the GOP-run Senate – a likely scenario – would leave Trump claiming vindication.
Unanimity completely disappeared on Medicare For All, with Biden, Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, DFL-Minn., leading the charge against it. After attacking the single-payer plan, plus Sanders and Warren, Klobuchar argued for “getting things done” through gradual – but unspecified — improvements in health care access. (IPA Service)
Courtesy: People’s World