US Democrats lay into Warren during debate
WESTERVILLE, OHIO : The Democratic presidential contenders headed back to the campaign trail yesterday after a debate that featured repeated attacks on surging progressive US Senator Elizabeth Warren exposed the party's divisions on issues like healthcare and taxes.
While Ms Warren has risen in the past month into a virtual tie with former Vice-President Joe Biden in opinion polls atop the Democratic race, most other contenders face an urgent challenge in breaking out of the pack while the political world is riveted by the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry of Republican President Donald Trump.
The first nominating contest in the Democratic race to pick a challenger to Mr Trump in the November 2020 election is Feb 3, 2020 in Iowa, giving candidates less than four months to make their case to voters on why they are best suited for the job.
In Tuesday's debate, moderates Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and US Senator Amy Klobuchar aggressively went after Ms Warren, asking her to explain how she would pay for ambitious proposals, including her Medicare for All plan and how much they would cost. Both candidates are trying to break out of the middle of the crowded Democratic pack. Mr Buttigieg has qualified for the November debate, while Ms Klobuchar has not.
"I think we owe it to the American people to tell them where to send the invoice," Ms Klobuchar told Ms Warren. "The difference between a plan and a pipe dream is something you can actually get done."
Ms Klobuchar pushed back when Ms Warren said critics of her wealth tax were trying to protect billionaires, saying: "No one on this stage wants to protect billionaires," adding: "Your idea is not the only idea."
Ms Warren did not directly respond to questions about whether she would raise taxes for the healthcare plan, but she said she would not sign any bill that does not lower healthcare costs for middle-class families.
"I have made clear what my principles are here, and that is that costs will go up for the wealthy and for big corporations and, for hard-working middle-class families, costs will go down," she said.
The expansive Medicare for All proposal, based on the government-run healthcare plan for Americans over age 65, has sharply divided Democratic presidential contenders. Some analysts have said it would cost US$32 trillion (S$44 trillion) over a decade. - REUTERS