2019年12月21日 星期六

On Politics This Week: The Wine Cave Debate

The final debate of the year took place against the backdrop of the vote to impeach President Trump.

It appears nobody consulted the Jedi Council before scheduling a Democratic debate on the same night that “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” opened. So if you missed it, or any of the other happenings on the 2020 campaign trail this week, we’re here to help.

Below, we’ll catch you up on wine caves, policy proposals and — oh, yes — impeachment.

And a programming note: This is the last On Politics email of the year. See you in 2020!

The smallest and whitest debate yet

Members of the media surrounded candidates after the debate in Los Angeles on Thursday.Brittainy Newman/The New York Times

It was mostly calm and cordial at first. But by the second hour of Thursday’s Democratic debate, the questions had sharpened and the gloves had come off.

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont pushed back hard on the suggestion that they were too old to be president. Asked the same question, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts noted that she would “be the youngest woman ever inaugurated.”

She and Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., sparred over a high-dollar fund-raiser that Mr. Buttigieg held in a wine cellar (wine cave?) in Napa Valley. Then Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota took aim at Mr. Buttigieg, objecting to his attacks on the value of Washington experience. Mr. Buttigieg criticized Ms. Warren for imposing “purity tests” on fund-raising, and accused Ms. Klobuchar of denigrating his experience as mayor of a midsize city. Later, Mr. Biden and Mr. Sanders got into their own fight about health care.


Then, to end the night, the moderators asked an odd question: Would you prefer to seek forgiveness or to give someone a gift? The women onstage — Ms. Warren and Ms. Klobuchar — said they’d ask forgiveness for, essentially, working too hard and caring too much. All of the men offered gifts.

The debate touched on a wide range of topics. But it could not cover everything. Perhaps most notably, homelessness was not discussed at a debate held in Los Angeles — a city that is at the center of the nation’s affordable housing crisis, a fact pointed out by a candidate who was not onstage, the former housing secretary Julián Castro.

On to the next!

Just a day after the debate, the Democratic National Committee released the qualification standards for the next one, which will take place Jan. 14 in Des Moines. Candidates must receive at least 5 percent support in four qualifying polls, or 7 percent in two early-state polls, and amass at least 225,000 individual donors.

Mr. Biden, Mr. Buttigieg, Ms. Klobuchar, Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren have already qualified. Mr. Yang and the billionaire investor Tom Steyer still have work to do, and the odds are even longer for everyone else.

What we learned from the polls:

On a related note, we got a half-dozen debate-qualifying polls this week, giving us a good sense of where the national race stands six weeks before the Iowa caucuses.


The polls — from Fox News, NPR/PBS/Marist University, Quinnipiac University, Suffolk University/USA Today, CNN and NBC News/The Wall Street Journal — showed a pretty consistent picture: Mr. Biden in the lead, Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren competing for second and third place, and Mr. Buttigieg in fourth. Mr. Sanders appears to have an edge over Ms. Warren, though the difference between them was within the margin of error in three of the six polls.

Keep in mind: We haven’t gotten a single qualifying poll in any of the four early-voting states since mid-November. The national standings may not reflect the feelings of voters in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada or South Carolina, and there are also significant demographic and ideological differences in the electorates of each of those states.

Solemn messages on impeachment

Speaker Nancy Pelosi during the voting. She called it “tragic” that impeachment was necessary.Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Following the impeachment of President Trump, several candidates praised the House’s vote while sounding a somber note about Wednesday’s place in American history.


Ms. Warren, who called for Mr. Trump’s impeachment in April, said the House had “taken an important step to hold him accountable.” Mr. Biden, whom Mr. Trump pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate, called it “a solemn moment for our country.” Mr. Sanders said it was “sad but necessary.” And Mr. Buttigieg praised Congress for defending “the rule of law.”

By contrast, Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii broke with the Democratic Party and voted “present” on both articles of impeachment. She was the only member of Congress, Democrat or Republican, to do so.

Bloomberg on health care

Michael R. Bloomberg unveiled his health care proposal at an event in Memphis on Thursday.Andrea Morales for The New York Times

Former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York unveiled his health care policy on Thursday, proposing a government-run insurance plan but no guarantee of universal coverage.

The plan aligns Mr. Bloomberg with moderate rivals like Mr. Biden and Mr. Buttigieg, who want a public insurance option but not the “Medicare for all” system backed by progressives like Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren. Mr. Bloomberg sees a place for private insurance, which more than 150 million Americans currently receive through their employers.

In other policy news:

  • Ms. Warren released a plan to fight global financial corruption, including the use of overseas shell companies to conceal misconduct. She is calling for stronger anti-money-laundering laws, disclosure requirements for financial institutions, and more international collaboration on transparency and enforcement.
  • In an op-ed for BuzzFeed, Ms. Warren described what she would do in the first 100 days of a Green New Deal. Among her promises: reversing Mr. Trump’s pro-fossil-fuel policies by executive order, banning new fossil fuel leases on public lands, and introducing “100% Clean Energy for America” legislation.
  • Ms. Klobuchar proposed a more than $1 trillion housing and poverty reduction plan. Among other things, the plan would eliminate the Section 8 housing voucher backlog, reduce wait times for the vouchers, provide temporary housing for people at risk of homelessness, and increase funding for affordable housing construction.
  • Mr. Yang outlined his health care agenda, saying that he supported “the spirit of Medicare for All” but that he believed eliminating private insurance was unrealistic, at least in the short term. His plan would focus on prescription drug costs, invest in tele-health programs and preventive care, and work to reduce the influence of health care lobbyists.
  • In a policy speech in Iowa City, Mr. Steyer said he would tax capital gains at the same rate as regular income and impose a wealth tax: 1 percent on wealth over $32 million, 1.5 percent over $500 million, and 2 percent over $1 billion. He also said his plan would give a 10 percent tax cut to 95 percent of Americans.


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