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4 ‘Republican Talking Points’ Called Out by 2020 Candidates During the Democratic Debate

Democratic candidates wary of party fracturing ahead of the 2020 election called out both their colleagues and the CNN debate moderators for using "Republican talking points" in relation to discussions around healthcare and immigration during the second round of Democratic debates.

The talking points mentioned arguably fail to provide a complete picture of the issue, making the Democratic viewpoint appear senseless or immoral. Here are four claims criticized by the 2020 candidates as "Republican talking points" this week during the second round of debates in Detroit.

Medicare for All Will Take Away Coverage for Those with Private Insurance

Early in the night on Tuesday, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren criticized former Maryland Congressman John Delaney for saying Medicare for All would make private health insurance "illegal."

"They're running on telling half the country that your health insurance is illegal. It says it right in the bill," said Delaney of Medicare for All supporters. "We don't have to do that. We can give everyone healthcare and allow people to have a choice. That's the American way."

Warren responded adamantly: "Let's be clear about this. We are the Democrats. We are not about trying to take away healthcare from anyone. That's what the Republicans are trying to do and we should stop using Republican talking points in order to talk with each other about how to best provide that healthcare."

New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, too, said during the second night that "the Republicans and Trump, their whole goal is to take away your health care."

Republicans have long championed the idea of "repeal and replace," in reference to President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act. The ACA expanded coverage by millions, but the Trump administration has taken steps to weaken the program, putting those millions at risk of losing healthcare.

California Senator Kamala Harris faced similar attacks for her own version of the Medicare for All plan, which offers Medicare options from private insurance companies. Colorado Senator Michael Bennet claimed Harris's plan "bans employer based insurance."

In reality, Harris' plan allows employers to offer their own insurance plans after a ten-year transition period, but the plans must be certified by the government as Medicare plans. Thus employees can have either a public Medicare plan or private Medicare plan.

"We cannot keep with the Republican talking points on this. You got to stop," Harris told Bennet. "The reality is that under my Medicare for All plan, yes, employers are not going to be able to dictate the kind of healthcare that their employees get... But it is misleading to suggest that employees want what their employer is offering only. They want choice and my plan gives that to them."

Medicare for All Will Raise Middle Class Taxes

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders criticized CNN moderator Jake Tapper on Tuesday night for repeatedly asking whether candidates believe the middle class should pay higher taxes in exchange for guaranteed health care—a point South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg called "a distinction without a difference, whether you're paying the same money in the form of taxes or premiums."

Those in favor of universal healthcare but opposed to Medicare for All argue that coverage can be achieved without raising taxes. Sanders, however, said that simply getting coverage is not enough.

"There are millions of people who have insurance. They can't go to the doctor, and when they come out of the hospital, they go bankrupt," said Sanders. "What I am talking about—and others up here are talking about—is no deductibles and no co-payments."

"And Jake, your question is a Republican talking point," he added. "By the way, the healthcare industry will be advertising tonight on this program... with that talking point."

On the following night, Bennet—who opposes Medicare for All—criticized the classification of the taxes debate as a Republican talking point.

"This has nothing to do with Republican talking points or the pharmaceutical industry," he said. Sanders authored the bill and openly says it will require raising taxes, Bennet continued. "He says that. Republicans don't say it. Don't try to distract from the truth."

Former Vice President Joe Biden, too, argued the tax issue is "not a Republican talking point."

"The fact of the matter is that there will be a deductible," Biden said of Medicare for All. "Thirty trillion dollars has to ultimately be paid."

Decriminalizing Illegal Border Crossings Would Create Open Borders

A handful of 2020 Democratic candidates have proposed decriminalizing illegal border crossings in favor of handling such cases in civil court. Moving the consequences out of the criminal sphere, proponents say, would allow families to stay together as they await their court date and remove the need for the detention facilities that have become overcrowded under Trump administration policies.

Biden argued that decriminalization is unnecessary, and the only reason the country has faced inhuman conditions at the border is because the law is being "abused" by the Trump administration.

"The fact of the matter is that, in fact, when people cross the border illegally, it is illegal to do it unless they're seeking asylum. People should have to get in line," he said. "If you cross the border illegally, you should be able to be sent back. It's a crime."

New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, a supporter of decriminalization, condemned such attacks as "playing into Republican hands."

"They're trying to divide us against each other," said Booker.

"No, Mr. Vice President, we are not going to just let people cross the border," he continued, addressing Biden's prior comments directly. "An unlawful crossing is an unlawful crossing, if you do it in the civil courts, or if you do in the criminal courts. But the criminal courts is what is giving Donald Trump the ability to truly violate the human rights of people coming to our country."

Only Highly Educated Immigrants Should Be Allowed into the U.S.

When arguing for an increase in the number of immigrants permitted to enter the country legally, Biden said that "anybody that crosses the stage with a with a PhD" should get a green card to remain in the U.S. for seven years.

"We should keep them here," he said. "The reason we're the country we are is we've been able to cherry pick from the best of every culture. Immigrants built this country. That's why we're so special. It took courage. It took resilience. It took absolutely confidence for them to come. And we should be encouraging these people."

Booker said this comment from the former vice president "really irks" him.

"That’s playing into what the Republicans want: to pit some immigrants against other immigrants," he said. "We need to reform this whole immigration system and begin to be the country that says everyone has worth and dignity and this should be a country that honors for everyone."