October Democratic Debate Recap
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Tuesday night, 12 democratic hopefuls took the debate stage in Ohio. The number of participants was record-breaking, but it did not keep the candidates from making sure their positions on major financial issues were heard loud and clear.
Here’s a quick rundown of the major financial topics discussed during the debate and how the proposed plans may affect your wallet in the future.
One of the most talked about topics of the night was the candidates’ stance on healthcare, and more specifically, Medicare for All. It’s certainly not a new talking point, but a rejuvenated Mayor Pete and Elizabeth Warren made for a particularly heated debate.
While Senators Warren and Sanders have been open about their support of Medicare for All (Bernie did, after all, “write the damn bill”), it has been the first time we’ve seen opponents directly press Warren on the effect it could have on the wallets of the middle class.
She responded, “costs will go up for the wealthy and for big corporations, and for hard-working middle class families, costs will go down.”
Moderator and New York Times national editor Marc Lacey was quick to point out a discrepancy. Sanders has been up front that his plan will raise taxes for everyone, but feels the total amount of out-of-pocket costs for healthcare will ultimately be lower. If Warren supports Sanders’ plan, wouldn’t she essentially be raising taxes as well? The point seemed to boil down to semantics.
Mayor Buttigieg continued to shepherd his “Medicare for all who want it” platform while Warren suggested changing his slogan to “Medicare for all who can afford it.” The Massachusetts senator insisted that the gold standard of healthcare is a single-payer program that makes healthcare a right, not a privilege.
Senator Amy Klobuchar added her voice to the debate calling for honesty about “where we’re going to send the invoice.” Echoing Buttigieg with an added callout to Obamacare, Klobuchar supported an option for public healthcare, but argued against kicking 150 million people off their existing private insurance.
Here’s a quick recap of what some candidates said about healthcare costs:
Warren: Believes costs will increase for corporations and the wealthy, but decrease for the middle class.
Sanders: States everyone’s taxes will increase, but all out-of-pocket healthcare expenses are gone.
Buttigieg: Says public healthcare would not be mandatory, but the option will exist in addition to private plans to drive down premiums.
Klobuchar: Wants to strengthen Obamacare as an affordable insurance option for those who want it, but keep private insurance as well.
Protecting American Jobs
One of the biggest potential financial burdens that may weigh on some Americans’ minds is job loss through automation. Senator Sanders has proposed a federal job guarantee that will ensure all Americans can get to work supporting infrastructure—including rebuilding roads, bridges, water systems, and more.
Former housing secretary Julián Castro proposed a similar plan, adding his support to the Green New Deal that would promote jobs centered around clean energy and creating a more sustainable power system. Beto O’Rourke brought the importance of education into the picture, claiming that more jobs are possible with stronger schools, added apprenticeships, and stable unions to protect workers.
When asked specifically about keeping jobs in the US instead of abroad, Senator Cory Booker made clear that he feels corporations need to stop getting tax breaks from moving jobs out of the country.
Both he and Senator Warren supported the idea of giving workers more of a say in their business’ financial dealings, with Warren pushing for an “Accountable Capitalism” plan to make 40% of a company’s board of directors voted on by their employees. According to Senator Warren, automation is not the main cause of job loss—it’s giant corporations with no loyalty to their employees.
Here’s a quick recap of how some candidates plan to help save American jobs:
Sanders: Says his federal jobs guarantee will get 15 million Americans to work on fixing our country’s failing infrastructure.
Warren: Claims her “Accountable Capitalism” plan will mandate that a company’s board of directors be voted on by employees. Companies should also give unions more power to negotiate.
Castro: Believes we need to focus on the communities where jobs are being automated and invest in new jobs through infrastructure and the Green New Deal.
Booker: Says we need to put the worker at the center of every trade deal for their company. No more tax incentives for moving jobs abroad.
O’Rourke: Feels we should promote education, elevate unions, and create millions of apprenticeships to give Americans a fair shot at jobs.
Yang: Claims a federal jobs guarantee doesn’t work because not everyone wants to work for the government. Believes a universal basic income is a better solution (see next point.)
Universal Basic Income
A discussion about jobs couldn’t be had without invoking Andrew Yang ’s top priority: Universal Basic Income (UBI). Yang’s position has remained firm on the subject since the beginning of his campaign, but this time a few other candidates added their support for the idea.
Representative Tulsi Gabbard fully backed Yang’s UBI plan, as well as Secretary Castro, who agreed that he would be open to piloting the idea.
Senators Warren and Sanders kept their united front by both discrediting the idea, with Warren being a bigger proponent for expanding Social Security benefits and adding $200 to the current Social Security and Disability Insurance payment of each American.
While a Universal Basic Income seems to be a simple solution for some candidates, others were more in favor of raising the minimum wage. Tom Steyer provided a clear picture of how the minimum wage has not kept up with inflation, and Senator Cory Booker insisted that a $15 wage is the best solution for “putting the dignity back in work.”
Here’s a quick recap of some of the candidates’ thoughts on UBI:
Yang: Believes a universal basic income of $1,000 a month will allow a “trickle-up” economy in which people can do the jobs they want to do.
Gabbard: Supports a plan for Universal Basic Income.
Castro: Would be willing to pilot a Universal Basic Income plan.
Warren: Feels a better plan would be extending social security and disability insurance.
Booker: Believes a better plan would be raising the minimum wage to $15 to put more money in Americans’ pockets.
Closing the Income Gap
The topic of billionaires was a less contentious one, despite an actual billionaire joining the debate stage. Tom Steyer, hedge fund manager and newest candidate to throw his hat in the ring, was quick to point out he’d show no leniency to Americans in his own tax bracket.
To prove it, Steyer recalled being one of the first people on the stage to call for a wealth tax (1% tax on the top 0.1% of Americans). He said he would undo recent Republican tax breaks for the wealthy, promote a higher minimum wage, and fight to ensure corporations no longer “buy our government.”
Never a close friend to the extremely wealthy, Bernie Sanders claimed that as Americans, we simply cannot afford a billionaire class. As long as half a million Americans are sleeping on the street, he said, he will be fighting to tax billionaires out of existence.
Former Vice President Joe Biden was asked about his previous comments around the dangers of demonizing the rich. He instead brought up his plan to double the capital gains tax to reward work, not wealth.
Capital gains, which are the profits one makes from selling an asset, are currently taxed at 0%, 15% or 20% based on your tax bracket. Under a Biden presidency, he would propose bringing the highest percentage up to 39.6% for those who earn more than $1 million a year.
Elizabeth Warren also promoted taxing the wealthy, bringing up her popular “two cents” wealth plan that has become a rally cry during her campaign events. By adding a two cent tax to every dollar made over 50 million, she claims we’d potentially gain enough money to pay for universal childcare, tuition-free college, and cancel student loan debt for a majority of Americans.
Finally Senator Kamala Harris , who spoke nearly half as much as her colleague from Massachusetts, discussed her plan to give a tax credit to working families. Painting a familiar childhood picture of her mother tackling her family’s finances at the kitchen table, Harris assured the audience that she feels this doesn’t need to be the harsh reality.
Under a Harris presidency, she doesn’t want working parents to have to choose between picking up another Uber passenger and watching their child’s soccer game.
Here’s a quick recap on what some of the candidates propose to solve the income gap:
Steyer: Proposes a wealth tax of one penny on every dollar millionaires make over $32 million.
Warren: Says a two cent tax on each dollar made over 50 million would create the money for programs to cancel student debt, pay for universal childcare, and make college tuition free.
Harris: Would give a tax credit of up to $6,000 a year to working families that make less than $100,000.
Biden: Says the highest capital gains tax percentage should be doubled, and taxes should be decreased for the less wealthy.
Keeping Healthy Financial Habits
Though the October debate was the fourth debate of the year so far, there was a group of candidates that appeared more passionate and hungry for policy change possibly than ever before. The financial ideas that are being shaped before next year’s election could undoubtedly affect the saving and spending habits of Americans all over the country—regardless of their wealth and income.
Practicing healthy financial habits every day might help you to be better prepared for any major financial changes that could take affect with the new presidency.
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