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Democratic debate roundup: Biden says he and his son have done nothing wrong

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Posted at 7:32 PM, Oct 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-16 00:52:04-04

WESTERVILLE, Ohio - Former Vice President Joe Biden said on Tuesday at the Democratic presidential debate that he and his son Hunter did not commit any wrongdoing by advocating for the dismissal of a Ukrainian prosecutor while his son was employed by a Ukrainian company under investigation.

"My son did nothing wrong," Biden said. "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."

The issue did not get much airplay on Tuesday from other candidates. The only candidate who was asked about Biden's conduct was Sen. Bernie Sanders, who opted not to attack Biden. In 2016, Sanders also did not go after opponent Hillary Clinton for her handling of government emails on a personal server.

But it appeared at least one other candidate wanted to expound on Biden's conduct as moderators moved on. One of the candidates who tried to interject could be heard saying, "It is wrong to move on."

Candidates agree on impeachment

The opening question at Tuesday’s debate was on why President Donald Trump should be removed from office instead of waiting for voters to decide next November. All 12 Democrats on stage have come out in support of impeachment of Trump.

Several candidates, including Sanders and Biden, said that Trump is the “most corrupt president in history.”

Among those on stage, there were six current members of Congress. Among them are five U.S. senators who could be asked to consider convicting Trump and removing the president from office.

“The president has not been putting America ahead of his own interests,” Minnesota U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar said.

The candidates agreed that Trump’s phone call to Ukraine’s president was an impeachable offense. While the candidates agreed that Trump crossed a red line, some of the candidates cautioned fellow Democrats.

"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," said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, who said Democrats should accept that Trump won the 2016 election.

Warren refuses to say 'Medicare For All' would increase taxes

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a supporter of "Medicare For All," was pressed on whether taxes would go up under her plan. Warren refused to say that middle class taxes would go up, instead saying that costs would go down.

"I have made clear what my principles are here. Costs will go up for the wealthy and big corporations,” Warren said.

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg said it was a simple yes or no question that Warren refuses to answer.

"That didn't get a yes or no answer,” Buttigieg said. “This is why people here in the Midwest are so frustrated with Washington in general and Capitol Hill in particular.”

Sanders, also a supporter of "Medicare For All," said that it is fair to say taxes would go up with the plan.

"As somebody who wrote the damn bill, let's be clear: Under the Medicare For All bill I wrote, premiums are gone, co-payments are gone, deductibles are gone. All out of expenses are gone," Sanders said.

Sanders said that a "Medicare For All" plan would cost $30 trillion over 10 years.

Overall, Americans spend $3.5 trillion in healthcare per year, the Congressional Budget Office says. But the CBO could not put an estimate on exactly how much the average person would spend with a Medicare-for-All system. A CBO report says a number of factors, such as whether state governments will pay into the system and whether citizens can opt out of public insurance all options, would affect costs.

The CBO states that the federal government has lower administrative costs than private insurance. The cost to administer all of Medicare was 6 percent, compared to 12 percent for private insurers in 2017, the CBO says.

The CBO added that administrative costs could decrease even further as a Medicare-for-All system would have fewer eligibility exclusions.

Protests line streets near the debate

Hundreds of protesters supporting Trump and other Democratic candidates lined the streets of Westerville as debate attendees walked by.

At times, police officers used bicycles to push protesters back onto the sidewalk.

Most of the protesters remained several city blocks away as the debate was held at a private university.