Sen. Kamala Harris put out her health care plan ahead of the debate in anticipation of this moment.
But the proposal, which would create a public-private combo plan over ten years, has been criticized from both the “Medicare for All” left and by moderates who want to build on Obamacare.
One of those doubters, former Vice President Joe Biden, accused Harris on Wednesday of misleading people about her position.
“You can’t beat President Trump with double-talk on this plan,” Biden said, after asking rhetorically why something good would take a decade to deliver.
Harris, like Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren last night, described her critics’ words as “Republican talking points.”
Earlier in the exchange, Harris suggested Biden and other critics had not read her plan. She also touted the support of former Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard pushed a progressive criticism tied to Sebelius’ endorsement, noting the latter’s ties to the private insurance industry.
Harris, though, kept her focus on Biden, whose proposal would create a public option, saying he would effectively solidify the status quo.
As exchange carried on, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio chimed in in favor of Medicare for All, arguing that people don’t like their private insurance — they like being insured, then accused critics onstage of “fear-mongering.” Booker tried to pivot the debate, one he said President Donald Trump would enjoy, and suggested his rivals focus instead on the ongoing GOP challenges to Obamacare.
Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet also took aim at Harris over the plan’s phasing out of private insurance, saying it would ban an entire industry.
It would not, as Harris noted, but over time will disentangle health insurance from employers — meaning coverage would no longer be tied primarily to having a job that offers benefits.
Watch the moment: