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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
CNN's Democratic Debate. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired October 15, 2019 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
COOPER: And live from Otterbein University, just north of Columbus, Ohio, this is the CNN-New York Times Democratic presidential debate.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and watching around the world, watching us on CNN, CNN International, CNN En Espanol, Cnn.com, thenewyorktimes.com, CNN's Facebook page, and listening on the Westwood One radio network, SiriusXM satellite radio, NPR, and the American Forces Network.
I'm Anderson Cooper moderating tonight's debate, along with Anderson Cooper and New York Times national editor Mark Lacey. We are in Ohio tonight, because it's one of the most critical battleground states. Ohio has backed all but two presidential winners in every election since 1896.
BURNETT: The top 12 Democratic presidential candidates are at their positions behind the podiums. This is a record number of candidates for a presidential primary debate, so to accommodate the large group, there are no opening statements tonight.
LACEY: Before we begin, a reminder of the ground rules. You'll each receive 75 seconds to answer questions, 45 seconds for responses and rebuttals, and 15 seconds for clarifications. Please refrain from interrupting your fellow candidates, as that will count against your time.
COOPER: And we remind our audience here in the Rike Center at Otterbein to be respectful so the candidates can hear the questions and each other. All right, let's begin.
Since the last debate, House Democrats have officially launched an impeachment inquiry against President Trump, which all the candidates on this stage support. Senator Warren, I want to start with you. You have said that there's already enough evidence for President Trump to be impeached and removed from office. But the question is, with the election only one year away, why shouldn't it be the voters who determine the president's fate?
WARREN: Because sometimes there are issues that are bigger than politics. And I think that's the case with this impeachment inquiry.
When I made the decision to run for president, I certainly didn't think it was going to be about impeachment. But when the Mueller report came out, I read it, all 442 pages. And when I got to the end, I realized that Mueller had shown, too, a fare-thee-well, that this president had obstructed justice and done it repeatedly. And so at that moment, I called for opening an impeachment inquiry.
Now, that didn't happen. And look what happened as a result. Donald Trump broke the law again in the summer, broke it again this fall. You know, we took a constitutional oath, and that is that no one is above the law, and that includes the president of the United States.
Impeachment is the way that we establish that this man will not be permitted to break the law over and over without consequences. This is about Donald Trump, but, understand, it's about the next president and the next president and the next president and the future of this country. The impeachment must go forward.
COOPER: Thank you, Senator Warren. You're all going to get in on this, by the way. Senator Sanders, do Democrats have any chance but to impeach President Trump? Please respond.
SANDERS: No, they don't. In my judgment, Trump is the most corrupt president in the history of this country. It's not just that he obstructed justice with the Mueller Report. I think that the House will find him guilty of -- worthy of impeachment because of the emoluments clause. This is a president who is enriching himself while using the Oval Office to do that, and that is outrageous.
And I think in terms of the recent Ukrainian incident, the idea that we have a president of the United States who is prepared to hold back national security money to one of our allies in order to get dirt on a presidential candidate is beyond comprehension. So I look forward, by the way, not only to a speedy and expeditious impeachment process, but Mitch McConnell has got to do the right thing and allow a free and fair trial in the Senate.
COOPER: Vice President Biden, during the Clinton impeachment proceedings, you said, and I quote, "The American people don't think that they've made a mistake by electing Bill Clinton, and we in Congress had better be very careful before we upset their decision." With the country now split, have Democrats been careful enough in pursuing the impeachment of President Trump?
BIDEN: Yes, they have. I said from the beginning that if, in fact, Trump continued to stonewall what the Congress is entitled to know about his background, what he did, all the accusations in the Mueller Report, if they did that, they would have no choice -- no choice -- but to begin an impeachment proceeding, which
gives them more power to seek more information.
This president -- and I agree with Bernie, Senator Sanders -- is the most corrupt president in modern history and I think all of our history. And the fact is that this president of the United States has gone so far as to say, since this latest event, that, in fact, he will not cooperate in any way at all, will not list any witnesses, will not provide any information, will not do anything to cooperate with the impeachment. They have no choice but to move.
COOPER: Senator Harris, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that members of Congress have to be, in her words, fair to the president and give him a chance to exonerate himself. You've already said that based on everything you've seen, you would vote to remove him from office. Is that being fair to the president?
HARRIS: Well, it's just being observant, because he has committed crimes in plain sight. I mean, it's shocking, but he told us who he was. Maya Angelou told us years ago, listen to somebody when they tell you who they are the first time.
During that election, Donald Trump told us he could shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue and get away with it. And he has consistently since he won been selling out the American people. He's been selling out working people. He's been selling out our values. He's been selling out national security. And on this issue with Ukraine, he has been selling out our democracy.
Our framers imagined this moment, a moment where we would have a corrupt president. And our framers then rightly designed our system of democracy to say there will be checks and balances. This is one of those moments. And so Congress must act.
But the reality of it is that I don't really think this impeachment process is going to take very long, because as a former prosecutor, I know a confession when I see it. And he did it in plain sight. He has given us the evidence. And he tried to cover it up, putting it in that special server. And there's been a clear consciousness of guilt. This will not take very long. Donald Trump needs to be held accountable. He is, indeed, the most corrupt and unpatriotic president we have ever had.
COOPER: Senator Booker, you have said that President Trump's, quote, "moral vandalism" disqualifies him from being president. Can you be fair in an impeachment trial? Please respond.
BOOKER: So, first of all, we must be fair. We are talking about ongoing proceedings to remove a sitting president for office. This has got to be about patriotism and not partisanship.
Look, I share the same sense of urgency of everybody on this stage. I understand the outrage that we all feel. But we have to conduct this process in a way that is honorable, that brings our country together, doesn't rip us apart.
Anybody who has criticisms about a process that is making all the facts bare before the American public, that works to build consensus, that's what this nation needs, in what is a moral moment and not a political one. So I swore an oath to do my job as a senator, do my duty. This president has violated his. I will do mine.
COOPER: Thank you, Senator Booker. Senator Klobuchar, you have -- what do you say to those who fear that impeachment is a distraction from issues that impact people's day-to- day lives, health care, the economy, and could backfire on Democrats?
KLOBUCHAR: We can do two things at once. That's our job. We have a constitutional duty to pursue this impeachment, but we also can stand up for America, because this president has not been putting America in front of his own personal interests.
He has not been standing up for the workers of Ohio. He's not been standing up for the farmers in Iowa. And I take this even a step further. You know, when he made that call to the head of Ukraine, he's digging up dirt on an opponent. That's illegal conduct. That's what he was doing. He didn't talk to him about the Russian invasion. He talked to him about that.
So I'm still waiting to find out from him how making that call to the head of Ukraine and trying to get him involved in interfering in our election makes America great again. I'd like to hear from him about how leaving the Kurds for slaughter, our allies for slaughter, where Russia then steps in to protect them, how that makes America great again. And I would like to hear from him about how coddling up to Vladimir Putin makes America great again.
It doesn't make America great again. It makes Russia great again. And that is what this president has done. So whether it is workers' issues, whether it is farmers' issues, he has put his own private interests...
COOPER: Thank you.
KLOBUCHAR: ... and I will not do that.
COOPER: Thank you. Secretary Castro, is impeachment a distraction?
CASTRO: Not at all. We can walk and chew gun at the same time. And all of us are out there every single day talking about what we're going to do to make sure that more people cross a graduation stage, that more families have great health care, that more folks are put to work in places like Ohio, where Donald Trump has broken his promises, because Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania actually in the latest jobs data have lost jobs, not gained them.
Not only that, what we have to recognize is that not only did the Mueller Report point out 10 different instances where the president obstructed justice or tried to, and he made that call to President Zelensky of the Ukraine, but he is in ongoingly -- in an ongoing way violating his oath of office and abusing his power.
We have to impeach this president. And the majority of Americans not only support impeachment, they support removal. He should be removed.
COOPER: Mayer Buttigieg, you have said that impeachment should be bipartisan. There's been, obviously, very little Republican support to date, yet Democrats are proceeding. Is that a mistake?
BUTTIGIEG: Well, it's a mistake on the part of Republicans, who enable the president whose actions are as offensive to their own supposed values as they are to the values that we all share.
Look, the president has left the Congress with no choice. And this is not just about holding the president accountable, for not just the things emerging in these investigations, but actions that he has confessed to on television. It's also about the presidency itself, because a president 10 years or 100 years from now will look back at this moment and draw the conclusion either that no one is above the law or that a president can get away with anything.
But everyone on this stage, by definition, is competing to be a president for after the Trump presidency. Remember, one way or the other, this presidency is going to come to an end. I want you to picture what it's going to be like, what it's actually going to feel like in this country the first day the sun comes up after Donald Trump has been president.
It starts out feeling like a happy thought; this particular brand of chaos and corruption will be over. But really think about where we'll be: vulnerable, even more torn apart by politics than we are right now. And these big issues from the economy to climate change have not taken a vacation during the impeachment process.
I'm running to be the president who can turn the page and unify a dangerously polarized country while tackling those issues that are going to be just as urgent then as they are now.
COOPER: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. Congresswoman Gabbard, you're the only sitting House member on this stage. How do you respond?
GABBARD: If impeachment is driven by these hyperpartisan interests, it will only further divide an already terribly divided country. Unfortunately, this is what we're already seen play out as calls for impeachment really began shortly after Trump won his election. And as unhappy as that may make us as Democrats, he won that election in 2016.
The serious issues that have been raised around this phone call that he had with the president of Ukraine and many other things that transpired around that are what caused me to support the inquiry in the House. And I think that it should continue to play its course out, to gather all the information, provide that to the American people, recognizing that that is the only way forward.
If the House votes to impeach, the Senate does not vote to remove Donald Trump, he walks out and he feels exonerated, further deepening the divides in this country that we cannot afford.
COOPER: Thank you, Congresswoman.
Mr. Steyer, you've been calling for impeachment for two years. Does there need to be bipartisan support? STEYER: Well, Anderson, this is my first time on this stage, so I just want to start by reminding everybody that every candidate here is more decent, more coherent, and more patriotic than the criminal in the White House.
But I also want to point out that Anderson's right. Two years ago, I started the Need to Impeach movement, because I knew there was something desperately wrong at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, that we did have the most corrupt president in the country, and that only the voice and the will of the American people would drag Washington to see it as a matter of right and wrong, not of political expediency. So, in fact, impeaching and removing this president is something that the American people are demanding. They're the voice that counts, and that's who I went to, the American people.
COOPER: Mr. Yang, do you think there's already enough evidence out there to impeach the president? Please respond.
YANG: I support impeachment, but we shouldn't have any illusions that impeaching Donald Trump will, one, be successful or, two, erase the problems that got him elected in 2016. We're standing in the great state of Ohio, the ultimate purple state, the ultimate bellwether state.
Why did Donald Trump win your state by eight points? Because we got rid of 300,000 manufacturing jobs in your towns. And we are not stopping there. How many of you have noticed stores closing where you work and live here in Ohio? Raise your hands.
It's not just you. Amazon alone is closing 30 percent of America's stores and malls, soaking up $20 billion in business while paying zero in taxes. These are the problems that got Donald Trump elected, the fourth industrial revolution. And that is going to accelerate and grow more serious regardless of who is in the Oval Office.
The fact is, Donald Trump, when we're talking about him, we are losing. We need to present a new vision, and that even includes talking about impeaching Donald Trump.
COOPER: Congressman O'Rourke, on impeachment, please respond.
O'ROURKE: You know, I think about everyone who's ever served this country in uniform. We have two examples here on this stage tonight in Mayor Buttigieg and Congresswoman Gabbard, those who have willingly sacrificed their lives to defend this country and our Constitution. We are the inheritors of their service and their sacrifice.
And we have a responsibility to be fearless in the face of this president's criminality and his lawlessness. The fact that as a candidate for the highest office in the land, he invited the participation, the invasion of a foreign power in our democracy. As president, he lied to investigators, obstructed justice, fired James Comey, head of the FBI, tried to fire Mueller, head of the investigation, then invited President Zelensky to involve himself in our politics, as well as China, in exchange for favorable trade terms in an upcoming trade deal.
COOPER: Thank you, Congressman.
O'ROURKE: If we do not hold him to account, if there is not justice, not only have we failed this moment, our Constitution and our country, but we have failed everyone who has sacrificed and laid their lives down on the line.
COOPER: Thank you.
O'ROURKE: And we cannot do that.
COOPER: Thank you, Congressman. The impeachment inquiry is centered on President Trump's attempts to get political dirt from Ukraine on Vice President Biden and his son, Hunter. Mr. Vice President, President Trump has falsely accused your son of doing something wrong while serving on a company board in Ukraine. I want to point out there's no evidence of wrongdoing by either one of you.
Having said that, on Sunday, you announced that if you're president, no one in your family or associated with you will be involved in any foreign businesses. My question is, if it's not OK for a president's family to be involved in foreign businesses, why was it OK for your son when you were vice president? Vice President Biden?
BIDEN: Look, my son did nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong. I carried out the policy of the United States government in rooting out corruption in Ukraine. And that's what we should be focusing on.
And what I wanted to make a point about -- and my son's statement speaks for itself. He spoke about it today. My son's statement speaks for itself. What I think is important is we focus on why it's so important to remove this man from office.
On the -- look, the fact that George Washington worried on the first time he spoke after being elected president that what we had to worry about is foreign interference in our elections, it was the greatest threat to America. This president on three occasions -- three occasions -- has invited foreign governments and heads of government to get engaged in trying to alter our elections. The fact is that it is outrageous.
Rudy Giuliani, the president, and his thugs have already proven that they, in fact, are flat lying. What we have to do now is focus on Donald Trump. He doesn't want me to be the candidate. He's going after me because he knows, if I get the nomination, I will beat him like a drum.
(UNKNOWN): Anderson -- Anderson...
COOPER: Hold on, sorry, just to follow up. Mr. Vice President, as you said, your son, Hunter, today gave an interview, admitted that he made a mistake and showed poor judgement by serving on that board in Ukraine. Did you make a mistake by letting him? You were the point person on Ukraine at the time. You can answer.
BIDEN: Look, my son's statement speaks for itself. I did my job. I never discussed a single thing with my son about anything having do with Ukraine. No one has indicated I have. We've always kept everything separate. Even when my son was the attorney general of the state of Delaware, we never discussed anything, so there would be no potential conflict.
My son made a judgment. I'm proud of the judgement he made. I'm proud of what he had to say. And let's focus on this. The fact of the matter is that this is about Trump's corruption. That's what we should be focusing on.
COOPER: Senator Sanders, your response?
SANDERS: Let me make a point. I think that it is absolutely imperative we go forward with impeachment. I hope that he is impeached. But I think what would be a disaster, if the American people believe that all we were doing is taking on Trump and we're forgetting that 87 million Americans are uninsured or underinsured. We're forgetting about the existential threat of climate change. We are forgetting about the fact that half of our people are living paycheck to paycheck. So what we have got to do is end this corruption, set a precedent for future history that says presidents like this cannot behave this way.
But we cannot and must not turn our backs on the pain of the working class of this country.
COOPER: Senator Sanders, thank you. Mark?
LACEY: We want to move now to the economy.
XXX to the economy.
(UNKNOWN): May I get in, please?
LACEY: You've proposed some sweeping plans...
LACEY: ... free public college...
(UNKNOWN): It is wrong to move on.
LACEY: Thank you. We're going to -- Senator Warren.
(UNKNOWN): It is wrong to move on.
LACEY: Senator Warren, we've proposed -- you've proposed some sweeping plans, free public college, free universal childcare, eliminating most Americans' college debt. [20:20:00]
And you've said how you're going to pay for those plans. But you have not specified how you're going to pay for the most expensive plan, Medicare for all. Will you raise taxes on the middle class to pay for it, yes or no?
WARREN: So I have made clear what my principles are here, and that is costs will go up for the wealthy and for big corporations, and for hard-working middle-class families, costs will go down. You know, the way I see this is, I have been out all around this country. I've done 140 town halls now, been to 27 states and Puerto Rico. Shoot, I've done 70,000 selfies, which must be the new measure of democracy.
And this gives people a chance to come up and talk to me directly. So I have talked with the family, the mom and dad whose daughter's been diagnosed with cancer. I have talked to the young woman whose mother has just been diagnosed with diabetes. I've talked to the young man who has MS.
And here's the thing about all of them. They all had great health insurance right at the beginning. But then they found out when they really needed it, when the costs went up, that the insurance company pulled the rug out from underneath them and they were left with nothing.
Look, the way I see this, it is hard enough to get a diagnosis that your child has cancer, to think about the changes in your family if your mom has diabetes, or what it means for your life going forward if you've been diagnosed with MS. But what you shouldn't have to worry about is how you're going to pay for your health care after that.
LACEY: Senator Warren, to be clear, Senator Sanders acknowledges he's going to raise taxes on the middle class to pay for Medicare for all. You've endorsed his plan. Should you acknowledge it, too?
WARREN: So the way I see this, it is about what kinds of costs middle- class families are going to face. So let me be clear on this. Costs will go up for the wealthy. They will go up for big corporations. And for middle-class families, they will go down. I will not sign a bill into law that does not lower costs for middle-class families.
LACEY: Mayor Buttigieg, you say Senator Warren has been, quote, "evasive" about how she's going to pay for Medicare for all. What's your response?
BUTTIGIEG: Well, we heard it tonight, a yes or no question that didn't get a yes or no answer. Look, this is why people here in the Midwest are so frustrated with Washington in general and Capitol Hill in particular. Your signature, Senator, is to have a plan for everything. Except this.
No plan has been laid out to explain how a multi-trillion-dollar hole in this Medicare for all plan that Senator Warren is putting forward is supposed to get filled in. And the thing is, we really can deliver health care for every American and move forward with the boldest, biggest transformation since the inception of Medicare itself.
But the way to do it without a giant multi-trillion-dollar hole and without having to avoid a yes-or-no question is Medicare for all who want it. We take a version of Medicare. We let you access it if you want to. And if you prefer to stay on your private plan, you can do that, too. That is what most Americans want, Medicare for all who want it, trusting you to make the right decision for your health care and for your family. And it can be delivered without an increase on the middle-class taxes.
LACEY: Thank you, Mayor. Senator, your response?
WARREN: So, let's be clear. Whenever someone hears the term Medicare for all who want it, understand what that really means. It's Medicare for all who can afford it. And that's the problem we've got.
Medicare for all is the gold standard. It is the way we get health care coverage for every single American, including the family whose child has been diagnosed with cancer, including the person who's just gotten an MS diagnosis. That's how we make sure that everyone gets health care.
We can pay for this. I've laid out the basic principles. Costs are going to go up for the wealthy. They're going to go up for big corporations. They will not go up for middle-class families. And I will not sign a bill into law that raises their costs, because costs are what people care about.
I've been studying this, you know, for the biggest part of my life...
LACEY: Thank you, Senator. Can the -- can the...
WARREN: ... why people go bankrupt.
LACEY: ... mayor respond?
BUTTIGIEG: I don't think the American people are wrong when they say that what they want is a choice. And the choice of Medicare for all who want it, which is affordable for everyone, because we make sure that the subsidies are in place, allows you to get that health care. It's just better than Medicare for all whether you want it or not.
And I don't understand why you believe the only way to deliver affordable coverage to everybody is to obliterate private plans, kicking 150 million Americans off of their insurance in four short years, when we could achieve that same big, bold goal -- and once again, we have a president -- we're competing to be president for the day after Trump. Our country will be horrifyingly polarized, even more than now, after everything we've been through, after everything we are about to go through, this country
will be even more divided. Why unnecessarily divide this country over health care when there's a better way to deliver coverage for all?
LACEY: Thank you. Thank you, Mayor. Senator Sanders?
WARREN: I'd like to be able to respond...
SANDERS: Well, as somebody who wrote the damn bill, as I said, let's be clear. Under the Medicare for all bill that I wrote, premiums are gone. Co-payments are gone. Deductibles are gone. All out-of-pocket expenses are gone. We're going to do better than the Canadians do, and that is what they have managed to do.
At the end of the day, the overwhelming majority of people will save money on their health care bills. But I do think it is appropriate to acknowledge that taxes will go up. They're going to go up significantly for the wealthy. And for virtually everybody, the tax increase they pay will be substantially less -- substantially less than what they were paying for premiums and out-of-pocket expansions.
BUTTIGIEG: Well, at least that's a straightforward answer, but there's a better way.
LACEY: Senator Warren, will you acknowledge what the senator just said about taxes going up?
WARREN: So my view on this, and what I have committed to, is costs will go down for hardworking, middle-class families. I will not embrace a plan like Medicare for all who can afford it that will leave behind millions of people who cannot. And I will not embrace a plan that says people have great insurance right up until you get the diagnosis and the insurance company says, "Sorry, we're not covering your expensive cancer treatments, we're not covering your expensive treatments for MS."
LACEY: Thank you, Senator. Senator Klobuchar...
WARREN: "We're not covering what you need."
KLOBUCHAR: At least Bernie's being honest here and saying how he's going to pay for this and that taxes are going to go up. And I'm sorry, Elizabeth, but you have not said that, and I think we owe it to the American people to tell them where we're going to send the invoice.
I believe the best and boldest idea here is to not trash Obamacare but to do exactly what Barack Obama wanted to do from the beginning and that's have a public option that would bring down the cost of the premium and expand the number of people covered and take on the pharmaceutical companies. That is what we should be doing instead of kicking 149 million people off their insurance in our years.
And I'm tired of hearing, whenever I say these things, oh, it's Republican talking points. You are making Republican talking points right now in this room by coming out for a plan that's going to do that. I think there is a better way that is bold, that will cover more people, and it's the one we should get behind.
LACEY: Senator Warren?
WARREN: You know, I didn't spend most of my time in Washington. I spent most of my time studying one basic question, and that is why hardworking people go broke. And one of the principal reasons for that is the cost of health care.
And back when I was studying it, two out of every three families that ended up in bankruptcy after a serious medical problem had health insurance. The problem we've got right now is the overall cost of health care. And, look, you can try to spin this any way you want. I've spent my entire life on working on how America's middle class has been hollowed out and how we fight back. I've put out nearly 50 plans on how we can fight back and how we can rebuild an America that works. And a part is that is we have got to stop...
LACEY: Thank you, Senator.
WARREN: ... Americans from going bankrupt over health care costs.
LACEY: Senator Klobuchar, do you want to respond?
KLOBUCHAR: Yes, I do. And I appreciate Elizabeth's work. But, again, the difference between a plan and a pipe dream is something that you can actually get done. And we can get this public option done. And we can take on the pharmaceutical companies and bring down the prices.
But what really bothers me about this discussion, which we've had so many times, is that we don't talk about the things that I'm hearing about from regular Americans. That is long-term care. We are seeing -- I once called it a silver tsunami. The aging -- and then someone told me that was too negative, so I call it the silver surge -- the aging of the population.
We need to make easier to get long-term care insurance and strengthen Medicaid. In this state, the state of Ohio, that has been hit by the opioid epidemic, we need to take on those pharma companies and make them pay for the addictions that they have caused and the people that they have killed.
LACEY: Thank you. Thank you, Senator.
KLOBUCHAR: Those are the issues that I hear about when I'm in Toledo.
LACEY: Thank you, Senator. Vice President Biden...
HARRIS: I'd like to be...
LACEY: Let me -- let me bring you in here, Vice President, for your response. Are Senators Warren and Sanders being realistic about the difficulty of enacting their plans?
BIDEN: First of all, the plan we're hearing discussed is the Biden plan, the one I built forward. Build on Obamacare, add a public option. We can go into that. I can talk about that if you'd like. But here's the deal. On the single most important thing facing the American public, I think it's awfully important to be straightforward with them. The plan is going to cost at least $30 trillion over 10 years.
That is more on a yearly basis than the entire federal budget.
And we talk about how we're going to pay for it. The study recently came out showing that, in fact, it will reduce costs. But for people making between $50,000 and $75,000 a year, their taxes are going to go up about $5,000, because the fact is they'll pay more in new taxes, 7.4 percent plus, or 5 percent, plus a 4 percent income tax. If you're making -- if a fireman and a schoolteacher are making $100,000 a year, their taxes are going to go up about $10,000. That is more than they will possibly save on this health care plan. We have a plan put forward that will work.
LACEY: Senator Sanders, do you want to respond to -- we were coming to you.
WARREN: I get a little bit tired -- I must say -- of people defending a system which is dysfunctional, which is cruel, 87 million uninsured, 30,000 people dying every single year, 500,000 people going bankrupt for one reason, they came down with cancer.
I will tell you what the issue is here. The issue is whether the Democratic Party has the guts to stand up to the health care industry, which made $100 billion in profit, whether we have the guts to stand up to the corrupt, price-fixing pharmaceutical industry, which is charging us the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs.
And if we don't have the guts to do that, if all we can do is take their money, we should be ashamed of ourselves.
LACEY: Thank you, Senator Sanders.
BIDEN: We can stand up to them.
LACEY: Senator Harris, your response?
HARRIS: This is the sixth debate we have had in this presidential cycle and not nearly one word, with all of these discussions about health care, on women's access to reproductive health care, which is under full-on attack in America today.
And it's outrageous. There are states that have passed laws that will virtually prevent women from having access to reproductive health care. And 3it is not an exaggeration to say women will die, poor women, women of color will die, because these Republican legislatures in these various states who are out of touch with America are telling women what to do with our bodies.
Women are the majority of the population in this country. People need to keep their hands off of women's bodies and let women make the decisions about their own lives.
LACEY: Thank you, Senator.
HARRIS: And let's talk about that.
LACEY: Thank you, Senator.
HARRIS: That is a significant health care issue in America today.
LACEY: Thank you, Senator.
BURNETT: I want to turn now to jobs. According to a recent study, about a quarter of American jobs could be lost to automation in just the next 10 years. Ohio is one of the states likely to be hardest hit.
Senator Sanders, you say your federal jobs guarantee is part of the answer to the threat from automation, but tens of millions of Americans could end up losing their jobs. Are you promising that you will have a job for every single one of those Americans?
SANDERS: Damn right we will. And I'll tell you why. If you look at what goes on in America today, we have an infrastructure which is collapsing. We could put 15 million people to work rebuilding our roads, our bridges, our water systems, our wastewater plants, airports, et cetera.
Furthermore -- and I hope we will discuss it at length tonight -- this planet faces the greatest threat in its history from climate change. And the Green New Deal that I have advocated will create up to 20 million jobs as we move away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy.
We need workers to do childcare. We need workers, great teachers to come in to school systems which don't have the teachers that we need right now. We need more doctors. We need more dentists. We need more carpenters. We need more sheet metal workers. And when we talk about making public colleges and universities tuition fee and cancelling student debt, we're going to give those people the opportunity to get those good jobs.
BURNETT: Senator Sanders, thank you. Mr. Yang, your main solution to job loss from automation is a universal basic income. Why is giving people $1,000 a month better than Sanders' plan to guaranteeing them a job?
YANG: I am for the spirit of a federal jobs guarantee, but you have to look at how it would actually materialize in practice. What are the jobs? Who manages you? What if you don't like your job? What if you're not good at your job? The fact is, most Americans do not want to work for the federal government. And saying that that is the vision of the economy of the 21st century to me is not a vision that most Americans would embrace.
Also, Senator Sanders, the description of a federal jobs guarantee does not take into account the work of people like my wife, who's at home with our two boys, one of whom is autistic. We have a freedom dividend of $1,000 a month. It actually recognizes the work that is happening in our families and our communities. It helps all Americans transition.
Because the fact is -- and you know this in Ohio -
if you rely upon the federal government to target its resources, you wind up with failed retraining programs and jobs that no one wants. When we put the money into our hands, we can build a trickle-up economy from our people, our families, and our communities up. It will enable us to do the kind of work that we want to do. This is the sort of positive vision in response to the fourth industrial revolution that we have to embrace as a party.
BURNETT: Senator Booker, a federal jobs guarantee or $1,000 a month, are those the best solutions there? Please respond.
BOOKER: Well, first of all, I'm happy to get in finally. And I just want to say, as a great -- as a great New Jersian, Yogi Berra, said, "I am having deja vu all over again."
I'm having deja vu all over again, first of all, because I saw this play in 2016's election. We are literally using Donald Trump's lies. And the second issue we cover on this stage is elevating a lie and attacking a statesman. That was so offensive. He should not have to defend ourselves. And the only person sitting at home that was enjoying that was Donald Trump seeing that we're distracting from his malfeasance and selling out of his office.
And I'm having deja vu all over again. And I'm having deja vu all over again because we have another health care debate, and we're not talking about the clear and existential threat in America that we're in a state that has had two Planned Parenthoods close. We are seeing all over this country women's reproductive rights under attack. And God bless Kamala, but you know what? Women should not be the only ones taking up this cause and this fight.
BURNETT: Thank you.
BOOKER: It is not just because women are our daughters and our friends and our wives. It's because women are people. And people deserve to control their own bodies.
BURNETT: Senator, thank you. We are going to get to that issue later on tonight.
Senator Warren, you wrote that blaming job loss on automation is, quote, "a good story, except it's not really true." So should workers here in Ohio not be worried about losing their jobs to automation?
WARREN: So the data show that we have had a lot of problems with losing jobs, but the principal reason has been bad trade policy. The principal reason has been a bunch of corporations, giant multinational corporations who've been calling the shots on trade, giant multinational corporations that have no loyalty to America. They have no loyalty to American workers. They have no loyalty to American consumers. They have no loyalty to American communities. They are loyal only to their own bottom line.
I have a plan to fix that, and it's accountable capitalism. It says, you want to have one of the giant corporations in America? Then, by golly, 40 percent of your board of directors should be elected by your employees. That will make a difference when a corporation decides, gee, we could save a nickel by moving a job to Mexico, when there are people on the board in the boardroom saying, no, do you know what that does to our company, do you know what that does to our community, to what it does to our workers?
We also need to make it easier to join a union and give unions more power when they negotiate.
We need to restructure strength in this economy, and that's where it starts.
BURNETT: Thank you, Senator.
Secretary Castro, what's your response to Senator Warren's claim that automation is a good story, except it's not really true?
CASTRO: Well, I think -- I think what folks have said is that that is only part of the issue, right? You know, I believe that we need to address communities that are being impacted by automation. I'm even willing to pilot something like UBI and to see how that would work.
But I think we need to focus on making sure that we spark job opportunity for people across this country. As I mentioned earlier, here in Ohio, in the latest job data, Ohio is losing jobs under Donald Trump. He has broken his promises to Ohio and the industrial Midwest. I would invest in infrastructure to put people back to work. I would invest in a Green New Deal to unleash millions of new jobs in a clean energy economy.
I was in Newton, Iowa, a few weeks ago and I visited a place called TPI. Newton, Iowa, had a Maytag washing machine manufacturing facility, and then it closed down. TPI manufactures wind turbines. They're putting hundreds of people to work at decent-paying jobs and creating a better future for those families.
On top of that, let me just say this. We need to support working families. We need to invest in things like...
BURNETT: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
CASTRO: ... universal childcare, so that people can afford childcare instead of having to pay 20 percent of their income for it.
YANG: Senator Warren, I just need -- I just need to address this.
BURNETT: Go ahead, Mr. Yang.
YANG: Senator Warren, I've been talking to Americans around the country about automation. And they're smart. They see what's happening around them. Their Main Street stores are closing. They see a self- serve kiosk in every McDonalds, every grocery store, every CVS. Driving a truck is the most common job in 29 states, including this one; 3.5 million truck drivers in this country. And my friends in California are piloting self-driving trucks.
What is that going to mean for the 3.5 million truckers or the 7 million Americans who work in truck stops, motels, and diners that rely upon the truckers getting out and having a meal? Saying this is a rules problem is ignoring the reality that Americans see around us every single day.
BURNETT: Senator Warren, respond, please.
WARREN: So I understand that what we're all looking for is how we strengthen America's middle class. And actually, I think the thing closest to the universal basic income is Social Security. It's one of the reasons that I've put forward a plan to extend the solvency of Social Security by decades and add $200 to the payment of every person who receives Social Security right now and every person who receives disability insurance right now.
That $200 a month will lift nearly 5 million families out of poverty. And it will sure loosen up the budget for a whole lot more. It also has a provision for your wife, for those who stay home to do caregiving for children or for seniors, and creates an opportunity for them to get credit on their Social Security.
BURNETT: Thank you.
WARREN: So after a lifetime of hard work, people are entitled to retire with dignity.
BURNETT: Thank you, Senator Warren.
WARREN: I see this as an important question about just -- I want to understand the data on this.
BURNETT: Senator, thank you very much.
WARREN: And I want to make sure we're responding to make this work.
BURNETT: Your time is up.
BURNETT: I want to give Congresswoman Gabbard a chance to respond.
GABBARD: Thank you. You know, really what this is about is getting to the heart of the fear that is well founded. As people look to this automation revolution, they look to uncertainty. They don't know how this is going to affect their jobs and their everyday lives.
And I agree with my friend, Andrew Yang. I think universal basic income is a good idea to help provide that security so that people can have the freedom to make the kinds of choices that they want to see.
This has to do with bad trade deals that we've seen in the past that have also driven fear towards people losing the way that they provide for their families. Really what we need to do is look at how we can best serve the interests of the American people. I do not believe a federal jobs guarantee is the way to do that. The value that someone feels in themselves and their own lives is not defined by the job that they have but is intrinsic to who we all are as Americans, whatever we choose to do with our lives, and we can't forget that.
BURNETT: Thank you very much.
LACEY: One of the industries most at risk from a changing economy is the auto industry. General Motors used to be the largest employer in Ohio. Now it's 72nd. Today, thousands of GM workers here in Ohio and across the country are on strike. All of you on the stage have voiced support for these workers.
Senator Booker, one of the latest impasses in negotiations involves bringing jobs back from Mexico. As president, how would you convince GM to return production to the United States?
BOOKER: Well, first of all, the one point I wanted to make about the UBI conversation -- and I hope that my friend, Andrew Yang, will come out for this -- doing more for workers than UBI would actually be just raising the 33minimum wage to $15 an hour. It would put more money in people's pockets than giving them $1,000 a month.
We have to start putting the dignity back in work. And, number one, you start having trade deals, not like this thing that the president is trying to push through Congress right now that gives pharmaceutical companies and other corporations benefits and doesn't put workers at the center of every trade deal.
We must make sure we are not giving corporate tax incentives for people to move jobs out of our country, but start to put the worker at the center of that and make sure that they have the resources to succeed.
But it's more than that. I stood with these workers because we're seeing this trend all over our country. I stood with unions because, right now, unions in America are under attack. As union membership has gone down, we have seen a stratification of wealth and income in this country.
So the other thing that I'll do as president of the United States is begin to fight again to see union strength in this country spread, to make sure we have sectoral bargaining so that unions from the auto workers all the way to fast food workers can ensure that we improve workers' conditions and make sure that every American has a living wage in this country.
LACEY: Thank you, Senator.
Congressman O'Rourke, same question for you. How would you convince GM to bring production back to the United States from Mexico?
O'ROURKE: I've met with these members of the UAW who are striking outside of facilities in Cincinnati, in Lordstown, Ohio, which has just been devastated, decimated by GM and their malfeasance, paying effectively zero in taxes last year. The people of Ohio investing tens of millions of dollars in the infrastructure around there.
What they want is a shot. And they want fairness in how we treat workers in this country, which they are not receiving today. Part of the way to do that is through our trade deals, making sure that if we trade with Mexico, Mexican workers are allowed to join unions, which they are effectively unable to do today. Not only is that bad for the Mexican worker, it puts the American worker at a competitive disadvantage.
If we complement that with investment in world-class pre-K through 12 public education, get behind our world-class public school educators, if we make sure that cost is not an object to be able to attend college, and if we elevate the role of unions in this country, and create more than 5 million apprenticeships over the next eight years, we will make sure that every single American has a shot.
They don't want a handout. They don't want a job guarantee. They just want a shot. And as president, I will give them that shot.
LACEY: Thank you, Congressman.
BURNETT: Income inequality is growing in the United States at an alarming rate. The top 1 percent now own more of this nation's wealth than the bottom 90 percent combined. Senator Sanders, when you introduced your wealth tax, which would tax the assets of the wealthiest Americans, you said, quoting you, Senator, "Billionaires should not exist." Is the goal of your plan to tax billionaires out of existence?
WARREN: When you have a half-a-million Americans sleeping out on the street today, when you have 87 people -- 87 million people uninsured or underinsured, when you've got hundreds of thousands of kids who cannot afford to go to college, and millions struggling with the oppressive burden of student debt, and then you also have three people owning more wealth than the bottom half of American society, that is a moral and economic outrage.
And the truth is, we cannot afford to continue this level of income and wealth inequality. And we cannot afford a billionaire class, whose greed and corruption has been at war with the working families of this country for 45 years.
So if you're asking me do I think we should demand that the wealthy start paying -- the wealthiest, top 0.1 percent, start paying their fair share of taxes so we can create a nation and a government that works for all of us? Yes, that's exactly what I believe.
BURNETT: Thank you, Senator.
Mr. Steyer, you are the lone billionaire on this stage. What's your plan for closing the income gap?
STEYER: Well, first of all, let me say this. Senator Sanders is right. There have been 40 years where corporations have bought this government, and those 40 years have meant a 40-year attack on the rights of working people and specifically on organized labor. And the results are as shameful as Senator Sanders says, both in terms of assets and in terms of income. It's absolutely wrong. It's absolutely undemocratic and unfair.
I was one of the first people on this stage to propose a wealth tax. I would undo every Republican tax cut for rich people and major corporations. But there's something else going on here that is absolutely shameful, and that's the way the money gets split up in terms of earnings.
As a result of taking away the rights of working people and organized labor, people haven't had a raise -- 90 percent of Americans have not had a raise for 40 years. If you took the minimum wage from 1980 and just adjusted it for inflation, you get $11 bucks. It's $7.25. If you included the productivity gains of American workers, it would be over $20 bucks.
There's something wrong here, and that is that the corporations have bought our government. Our government has failed. That's why I'm running for president, because we're not going to get any of the policies that everybody on this stage wants -- health care, education, Green New Deal, or a living wage...
BURNETT: Thank you, Mr. Steyer.
STEYER: ... unless we break the power of these corporations.
BURNETT: Thank you, Mr. Steyer.
Vice President Biden, you have warned against demonizing rich people. Do you believe that Senator Sanders and Senator Warren's wealth tax plans do that?
BIDEN: No, look, demonizing wealth -- what I talked about is how you get things done. And the way to get things done is take a look at the tax code right now. The idea -- we have to start rewarding work, not just wealth. I would eliminate the capital gains tax -- I would raise the capital gains tax to the highest rate, of 39.5 percent.
I would double it, because guess what? Why in God's name should someone who's clipping coupons in the stock market make -- in fact, pay a lower tax rate than someone who, in fact, is -- like I said -- the -- a schoolteacher and a firefighter? It's ridiculous. And they pay a lower tax.
Secondly, the idea that we, in fact, engage in this notion that there are -- there's $1,640,000,000,000 in tax loopholes. You can't justify a minimum $600 billion of that. We could eliminate it all. I could go into detail had I the time.
Secondly -- I mean, thirdly, what we need to do is we need to go out and make it clear to the American people that we are going to -- we are going to raise taxes on the wealthy.
We're going to reduce tax burdens on those who are not.
And this is one of the reasons why these debates are kind of crazy, because everybody tries to squeeze everything into every answer that is given. The fact is, everybody's right about the fact that the fourth industrial revolution is costing jobs. It is. The fact is also corporate greed is th33ey're going back and not investing in our employees, they're reinvesting and buying back their stock.
BURNETT: Thank you, Mr. Vice President.
BIDEN: See, I'm doing the same thing.
BURNETT: Thank you, Mr. Vice President.
Senator Warren, your response.
WARREN: So I think this is about our values as a country. Show me your budget, show me your tax plans, and we'll know what your values are.
And right now in America, the top 0.1 percent have so much wealth -- understand this -- that if we put a 2 cent tax on their 50 millionth and first dollar, and on every dollar after that, we would have enough money to provide universal childcare for every baby in this country, age zero to five, universal pre-K for every child, raise the wages of every childcare worker and preschool teacher in America, provide for universal tuition-free college, put $50 billion into historically black colleges and universities...
BURNETT: Thank you, Senator Warren.
WARREN: ... and cancel -- no, let me finish, please, and cancel student loan debt for 95 percent of the people who have it. My question is not why do Bernie and I support a wealth tax. It's why is it does everyone else on this stage think it is more important to protect billionaires than it is to invest in an entire generation of Americans?
BURNETT: Thank you, Senator Warren.
BIDEN: No one is supporting billionaires.
BURNETT: Mayor Buttigieg? Mayor Buttigieg, your response?
BUTTIGIEG: I'm all for a wealth tax. I'm all for just about everything that was just mentioned in these answers. Let me tell, though, how this looks from the industrial Midwest where I live.
Washington politicians, congressmen and senators, saying all the right things, offering the most elegant policy prescriptions, and nothing changes. I didn't even realize it was unusual to have empty factories that I would see out the windows of my dad's Chevy Cavalier when he drove me to school, I didn't know that wasn't every city until I went away to college. Now I drive my own Chevy. It's a Chevy Cruze. It used to be built right in Lordstown, which is now one more symbol of the broken promises that this president has made to workers.
But why did workers take a chance on this president in the first place? It's because it felt like nobody was willing to actually do anything. And while he's unquestionably made it dramatically worse, this is time to realize that we're paying attention to the wrong things. We're paying attention...
BURNETT: Thank you, Mayor. Thank you, Mayor Buttigieg.
BUTTIGIEG: ... to who sounded better on a debate stage or in a committee hearing...
BURNETT: Senator Klobuchar -- Senator Klobuchar...
BUTTIGIEG: This is what it's going to take to get something done.
BURNETT: Will a wealth tax -- will a wealth tax work?
KLOBUCHAR: It could work. I am open to it. But I want to give a reality check here to Elizabeth, because no one on this stage wants to protect billionaires. Not even the billionaire wants to protect billionaires.
We just have different approaches. Your idea is not the only idea. And when I look at this, I think about Donald Trump, the guy that after that tax bill passed went to Mar-a-Lago, got together with his cronies, and said, guess what, you guys all got a lot richer. That was the one time in his presidency he told the truth.
So we have different ways -- I would repeal significant portions of that tax bill that help the rich, including what he did with the corporate tax rate, including what he did on international taxation. You add it all up, you got a lot of money that, one, helps pay for that childcare, protects that dignity of work, makes sure we have decent retirement, and makes sure that our kids can go to good schools.
BURNETT: Thank you. Senator...
KLOBUCHAR: It is not one idea that rules here.
BURNETT: Thank you, Senator Klobuchar. Senator Warren, please respond.
WARREN: So understand, taxing income is not going to get you where you need to be the way taxing wealth does, that the rich are not like you and me. The really, really billionaires are making their money off their accumulated wealth, and it just keeps growing. We need a wealth tax in order to make investments in the next generation.
Look, I understand that this is hard, but I think as Democrats we are going to succeed when we dream big and fight hard, not when we dream small and quit before we get started.
KLOBUCHAR: I would like to respond to that.
BURNETT: Senator Klobuchar, respond, please.
KLOBUCHAR: You know, I think simply because you have different ideas doesn't mean you're fighting for regular people. I wouldn't even be up on this stage if it wasn't for unions and the dignity of work. If my grandpa didn't have unions protecting him in those mines, he wouldn't have survived. If my mom didn't have unions as a teacher, she wouldn't have been able to make the wages she made when my parents got divorced.
So just because we have different ideas, and
get to the same place in terms of beating Donald Trump and taking this on, we are in Ohio. We can win Ohio in the presidency, but only if we unite, if we unite around ideals and don't go fighting against each other and instead take the fight to him.
BURNETT: Thank you, Senator.
Senator Harris, you want to give working families a tax credit of up to $6,000 a year to help close the income gap.
BURNETT: Is that a better solution than a wealth tax?
HARRIS: Well, here's how I think about it. When I was growing up, my mother raised my sister and me. We would often come home from school before she came home from work. She'd come home, she'd cook dinner, and at some point we'd go to bed, and she'd sit up at the kitchen table trying to figure out how to make it all work.
And when I think about where we are right now in 2020, I do believe justice is on the ballot. It's on the ballot in terms of impeachment, it's on the ballot in terms of economic justice, health justice, and so many other issues.
So when I think about this issue, I'm thinking about that dad who tonight is going to be sitting at his kitchen table, after everyone's gone to sleep, and sitting there with his cup of tea or coffee trying to figure out how it's going to make -- how he's going to make it work. And he's probably sitting there deciding that on that minimum wage job that does not pay enough for him to meet the bills at the end of the month, he's going to have to start driving an Uber. And what does that mean? That means that with those two jobs, he's going to miss his kids' soccer games.
That's the reality for Americans today, which is why, yes, when I get elected and pass this bill, which will give the American family who makes less than $100,000 a year a tax credit of up to $6,000 a year that they can take home at up to $500 a month, that's going to make a real difference in that man's life. And don't tell him that's not a big deal...
BURNETT: Thank you, Senator.
HARRIS: ... when he's trying to get through to the end of the month.
BURNETT: Mr. Yang, your response. Would you impose a wealth tax?
YANG: Senator Warren is 100 percent right that we're in the midst of the most extreme winner-take-all economy in history. And a wealth tax makes a lot of sense in principle. The problem is that it's been tried in Germany, France, Denmark, Sweden, and all those countries ended up repealing it, because it had massive implementation problems and did not generate the revenue that they'd projected.
If we can't learn from the failed experiences of other countries, what can we learn from? We should not be looking to other countries' mistakes. Instead, we should look at what Germany, France, Denmark, and Sweden still have, which is a value-added tax. If we give the American people a tiny slice of every Amazon sale, every Google search, every robot truck mile, every Facebook ad, we can generate hundreds of billions of dollars and then put it into our hands, because we know best how to use it.
BURNETT: Thank you. Thank you.
Congressman O'Rourke, do you think a wealth tax is the best way to address income inequality? Your response.
O'ROURKE: I think it's part of the solution. But I think we need to be focused on lifting people up. And sometimes I think that Senator Warren is more focused on being punitive and pitting some part of the country against the other instead of lifting people up and making sure that this country comes together around those solutions.
I think of a woman that I met in Las Vegas, Nevada. She's working four jobs, raising her child with disabilities, and any American with disabilities knows just how hard it is to make it and get by in this country already. Some of those jobs working for some of these corporations, she wants to know how we are going to help her, how we're going to make sure that her child has the care that she needs, that we strengthen protections for those with disabilities, that she just has to work one job because it pays a living wage.
And Senator Warren said show me your budget, show me your tax plan, and you'll show me your values. She has yet to describe her tax plan and whether or not that person I met would see a tax increase. Under my administration, if you make less than $250,000 a year as a family, you will not see a tax increase. That family needs to know that.
BURNETT: Thank you, Congressman.
(UNKNOWN): Erin, let me say...
BURNETT: I want to give Senator Warren a chance to respond.
WARREN: So I'm really shocked at the notion that anyone thinks I'm punitive. Look, I don't have a beef with billionaires. My problem is you made a fortune in America, you had a great idea, you got out there and worked for it, good for you. But you built that fortune in America. I guarantee you built it in part using workers all of us helped pay to educate. You built it in part getting your goods to markets on roads and bridges all of us helped pay for. You built it at least in part protected by police and firefighters all of us help pay the salaries for.
And all I'm saying is, you make it to the top, the top 0.1 percent, then pitch in two cents so every other kid in America has a chance to make it.
BURNETT: Senator, thank you.
WARREN: That's what this is about.
BURNETT: Senator Castro, your response?
O'ROURKE: There's no argument there. I just want to make sure that we're lifting up those families who are working and need help through an expanded earned income tax credit or child tax credit...
WARREN: But that is...
O'ROURKE: ... which we will do in my administration.
BURNETT: Go ahead, Senator.
WARREN: That is the point. This is universal childcare for every baby in this country, early educational opportunities for every child, universal pre-K no matter where you live for every 3-year-old and 4- year-old.