Democratic U.S. presidential candidates debate during the fifth 2020 campaign debate at the Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, Georgia, on Wednesday. Photo: REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
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Democratic White House candidates unite on impeachment, differ on taxes, healthcare

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By James Oliphant and Simon Lewis

Democratic White House contenders united in condemning Republican President Donald Trump and supporting the inquiry into his impeachment at a debate on Wednesday, but largely backed away from the attacks that marked their earlier encounters.

During the fifth debate in the Democratic race to pick a challenger to Trump in the November 2020 election, candidates expressed differences on details of healthcare and tax policy but kept their disagreements polite.

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, the progressive who has pushed ambitious plans to tax wealth and create a government-run healthcare plan, and Pete Buttigieg, the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who has been rising the polls, escaped what had been expected to be sustained attacks from their rivals.

Buttigieg defended his relative lack of experience, saying it was not traditional establishment Washington experience but"the right experience to take on Donald Trump."

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar agreed he deserved his spot on the debate stage, but she said there was a double standard when it came to women candidates.

"Otherwise we could play a game called name your favorite woman president," Klobuchar said, adding: "If you think a woman can't beat Trump, (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi does it every day."

The candidates repeatedly blasted Trump and said the president's efforts to press Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading Democratic presidential contender, were an example of the administration's corruption.

The Democratic-led House of Representatives has launched an impeachment inquiry into Trump's bid to get Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son Hunter, who served on the board of Ukrainian gas company Burisma.

The candidates said Trump's actions had forced lawmakers to hold him accountable.

"We have to establish the principle that no one is above the law, we have a constitutional responsibility and we need to meet it," said Warren, an early supporter of Trump's impeachment.

Asked if he would support a criminal investigation into Trump after he leaves the White House, Biden said he would leave it to the Department of Justice to decide whether Trump should be prosecuted for his actions.

"If that was the judgment, that he violated the law, and he should be in fact criminally prosecuted, then so be it. But I would not direct it, and I don’t think it’s a good idea that we mock, that we model ourselves after Trump and say: ‘Lock him up,’" he said.

WEALTH TAX

The Democratic debate comes just 11 weeks before the first nominating contest in Iowa, on Feb 3, raising the stakes for the 10 participants hoping for a chance to make an impression with voters before time runs out.

The Democratic White House race has featured a three-way battle at the top of recent national polls between moderate Biden, the former U.S. vice president, and progressive leaders Warren and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders.

But Buttigieg has taken the lead in two recent polls in Iowa and is on the move in early voting New Hampshire despite the questions about his relative lack of experience and his inability to make inroads with African-American voters.

Warren has seen some of her momentum fade after coming under fire in the last debate from rivals who questioned how she would pay for her government-run Medicare for All plan, which would eliminate private health insurance, without raising taxes on the middle class.

As in past debates, the candidates disagreed on Warren's proposal to raise taxes on the wealthy and on her Medicare for All proposal.

U.S. Senator Cory Booker said he agreed on the need to make the tax system more fair, but added: "I don't agree with the wealth tax the way Elizabeth Warren puts it."

Warren said her proposal to tax wealth rather than just income would not punish anyone, but would tell the wealthy who had built something for the country that "all of us helped pay for it."

Biden, who supports offering a government-run healthcare plan as an option, criticized Warren's Medicare for All proposal and said the "vast majority" of Democrats did not support it.

"Right now, with Democrats, they couldn't pass the House. Nancy Pelosi is one of those people who think it doesn’t make sense. We should build on Obamacare," Biden said of the healthcare plan passed under Democratic President Barack Obama.

Warren has since released a detailed plan to fund the $20.5 trillion in new federal spending that she estimates her plan would cost over 10 years with tax increases on corporations and the wealthy, and "not one penny" of new middle-class taxes.

She followed up with a plan to implement her proposal in two stages, offering the option of buying into the current Medicare program for seniors, followed by legislation to end existing private plans by her third year in office.

The field of debaters has been trimmed from the 12 candidates in last month's Democratic debate. Former U.S. Representative Beto O'Rourke of Texas dropped out of the race and former U.S. Housing Secretary Julian Castro was cut from the stage by the Democratic National Committee's toughened qualifying criteria.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

14 Comments

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Boring. They should get Schiff to moderate the next one. Tulsi did say Dem party is not the party of, by or for the people.

So brace for more “Russian asset” attacks. I barely know what Yang sounds like he never gets to speak.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Of course they agreed on impeachment there's no hope any of them have a chance against Trump at the 2020 elections, so the Democrats are down to their last underhanded opportunity.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

They have continued to vocalize their stupidity since the election.

They've double down on it. Before the election, it was very clear to those of us that have a clue about how the world works, that he was incompetent. But to be fair, his acolytes didn't have the intellectual capacity for the foresight to have seen that. So you can't blame them for not knowing ahead of time. But now it's three years in, and everyone can see he's incompetent. So they can't even be excused for being stupid, it's clear that they are just trolling America because they're still bitter that America didn't hate Hillary as much as they did.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

So who is your 2020 candidate? nobody even cares. 

More people voted for a Democrat than a Republican in the last presidential election.

Why do you use such nonsensical words like ‘nobody’?

You cared enough to post nonsense here.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Of course they suppirt impeachment. Its their only hope, but its a false hope.The impeachment fiasco will cost the Democrats dearly. As much as the increasingly unhinged CNN etc networks scream “bombshell testimony”, there is nothing there. Sondland ( the latest big hope of Schiff/Pelosi) is easily picked apart.

Sondland: “I asked Trump what he wanted from Ukraine. Trumps answer was, ‘Nothing’.”

The impeachment hoax supporters remind me of Fox Mulder in the X Files - “I want to believe”.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

These die hard impeachment supporters are like flat earthers. They live in there own reality where they only see what they want to see. So delusional.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

These die hard impeachment supporters are like flat earthers. They live in there own reality where they only see what they want to see. So delusional

Are they also like those who think climate change is a hoax concocted by the Chinese, Ted Cruz’s father was in the JFK assassination and those who think the previous president wasn’t an American citizen. Delusional thinking is no handicap in politics if you look at the current US president.

As far as I can see, Trump looks guilty of what he’s being charged of but this won’t see the senate remove him. How this will affect 2020 is difficult to gauge.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Maybe the Trumpers should take their hand out of the basket of the Maytag and turn the spin cycle down....

Sondland put a torpedo in the Trump Titanic today;

*Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, said he *"followed the president's orders"

*The ambassador, a wealthy Oregon hotelier and Trump political donor, detailed the president's active participation in the Ukraine controversy.*

*"Everyone was in the loop. It was no secret,"** Sondland said in an email he sent to top administration officials ahead of the July 25 telephone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that triggered the impeachment inquiry.*

*Sondland said the three worked "at the express direction of the president of the United States" with Giuliani. The efforts by Giuliani to get Zelenskiy to investigate the Bidens "were a quid pro quo for arranging a White House visit" for the Ukrainian leader, Sondland said, using a Latin term meaning to exchange a favor for another favor.*

*Sondland said the three worked "at the express direction of the president of the United States" with Giuliani. The efforts by Giuliani to get Zelenskiy to investigate the Bidens "were a quid pro quo for arranging a White House visit" for the Ukrainian leader, Sondland said, using a Latin term meaning to exchange a favor for another favor.*

Not only do we get "following the President's orders", we get "at the direction of the President", and the magic words "*were a quid pro quo for"....*

He placed Pence, Pompeo, Mulvaney and especially Perry all "in the loop"...hope they all got good lawyers...

And Donnie better get a pacemaker fitted or they'll be more trips to Walter Reed Hospital...oh my....

2 ( +2 / -0 )

And lets not forget Vindman's hurt retort when he was addressed as Mr Vindman,

"Er, thats LEUTENNANT COLONEL Vindman".

Forcing a civilian to call you by your military rank is considered very low class in the military. Its very revealing. Well, he wasnt what the Democrats hoped, so its on to the next "bombshell witness".

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Biden was a gaffe machine as usual. I see why they dont let him go out in public.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Joe going on about how all African Americans support him cause of being Obama bff:

Biden: “The only Blafrican (!?) woman that had ever been elected to the United States Senate”

Kamala: “No, that’s not true. I’m right here”

Biden:"I said the first"

Joe, this is on TV we heard what you said. People laughed him out of the building.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

The only question left is who are the Repubs going to pick after Donnie is banished and perp-walked over to the NYSD Attorney...

Pious Pence? Hardly, he's now knee-deep in Ukrainegate and will be lucky to stay until 2020....

Porky Pompeo? Same, he's in it even deeper and is already trying to jump ship...

Mr "Whoops" Perry? Rick is in deep doo-doo - got caught pressuring the Ukrainians to give a sweetheart deal to his Texas oil and gas buddies....he's looking at jail time...

Well, maybe there's Ivanka...she's qualified right - she's sold handbags at Macy's,,,

I keep telling you Repubs, if you were smart you'd get Romney or Mattis on the phone quick....

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Romney is so bad I picked Obama over him. Thats how bad he is. (But lets see if Deval Patrick gets the same attacks for working for Bain Capital- likely not, Im sure thats "ok" just for now).

Mattis is a likely Democrat. Trump 2020 will be just fine.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Democrats really put themselves in a box. When this impeachment hoax goes to trial in the Senate 6 of these Bozos candidates will have to be present, so they won’t be on the campaign trail unless they forgo their solemn duty to impeach this President and at the same time on Dec. 8th Durham’s FISA report on how Democrats and the intelligence agency tried to screw up Trump’s Presidency and on Dec. 11th Durham will testify in front of the Senate...Oh, Hunter....well, he’s problems have only gotten worse over the last hour, so this is really going to hurt him and it might hurt his dad as well, either way, Biden won’t be the nominee especially now, next month will be the most wonderful time of the year.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

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