HOUSTON – Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenThe Hill’s 12: 30 Report: House panel approves impeachment powers Cruz: Texas will be ‘hotly contested’ in 2020 Sanders spokeswoman: A lot of candidates will have to answer for their past MORE came out swinging at Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill’s 12: 30 Report: House panel approves impeachment powers Cruz: Texas will be ‘hotly contested’ in 2020 Sanders spokeswoman: A lot of candidates will have to answer for their past MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenThe Hill’s 12: 30 Report: House panel approves impeachment powers Cruz: Texas will be ‘hotly contested’ in 2020 Senate Democrats want answers on ‘dangerous’ Amazon delivery system MORE (D-Mass.) at the 2020 debate on Thursday night, saying their “Medicare for all” proposals would raise taxes on ordinary Americans and bankrupt the government.
ABC News anchor George StephanopoulosGeorge Robert StephanopoulosThe Hill’s 12: 30 Report: House panel approves impeachment powers 2020 primary debate guide: Everything you need to know ahead of the September Democratic debate Sunday shows – White House stresses Trump’s determination in China trade fight as GOP challenger emerges MORE opened the presidential primary debate asking Biden if the progressive candidates flanking him on stage were going too far to the left, and Biden responded by saying that their proposals are untenable.
In one particularly testy exchange, Biden turned to Sanders and called him a “socialist.”
The former vice president tied himself to former President Obama, saying he would build on the popular Affordable Care Act.
“[Warren] says she’s for Bernie, I’m for Barack,” Biden said.
“My plan costs a lot,” he continued. “But it doesn’t cost $30 trillion. That’s twice the entire federal budget before it exists now. How will we pay for it? I want to hear. [Warren] has not said how she’ll pay for it and [Sanders] only gets about half way there. I lay out how I can pay for it and how I can get it done and why it’s better.”
Warren responded, saying Americans “owe a huge debt” to Obama for fundamentally transforming the industry.
“The question is how best we can improve on it,” she said. “We make sure everyone gets covered at the lowest possible cost. We pay for it from those at the top, the richest and biggest corporations will pay more and Middle Class families will pay less.”
Sanders shot back at Biden as well, saying that the status quo in the health care industry would cost $20 trillion more than Medicare for all.
“Let us be clear Joe, in the U.S.A. we’re spending twice as much per capital on health care as the Canadians or any other country on Earth,” Sanders said.
“Every study shows Medicare for all is the most cost effective approach,” he continued. “I wrote the damn bill and intend to eliminate all out of pocket expenses, all deductibles and copayments, nobody in America will pay more.”
Sanders added that corporations would help employees out with the cost based on what the worker had paid into the system.
“For a socialist you got a lot more confidence in corporate America than I do,” Biden responded.
Democrats regained the House in 2018 in part by running on a message that they would protect ObamaCare from the GOP’s repeal and replace efforts, but the question of whether the party should go further and embrace Medicare for all in 2020 has split the candidates along progressive and centrist lines.
Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro piled on Biden, accusing him of forgetting his own talking points, a clear shot at Biden’s age.
“Are you forgetting what you said two minutes ago?” Castro asked.
“I’m fulfilling the legacy of Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaDebra Messing, leave black Trump supporters alone Three-way clash set to dominate Democratic debate Obama remembers ‘spirit of unity and togetherness’ after 9/11 attacks MORE and you’re not,” he added.
Biden retorted: “That’s news to him.”
The exchange had some Democrats warning that they’re tearing each other down.
“This is why debates are unwatchable, it reminds everyone about what they can’t stand about Washington, scoring points against each other,” said South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegThe Hill’s 12: 30 Report: House panel approves impeachment powers Burden in tonight’s debate is on Democratic realists California law could upend gig economy — and progress MORE.
“A house divided cannot stand,” said Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharThe Hill’s 12: 30 Report: House panel approves impeachment powers The Hill’s Morning Report – 2020 Democrats set for Lone Star showdown The Hill’s 12: 30 Report: Trump issues Taliban warning at Sept. 11 memorial MORE (D-Minn.).