Democrats talk healthcare, climate change in Nevada debate

Six presidential candidates took the stage in Las Vegas on Wednesday for a debate ahead of the Nevada caucuses on Saturday. Photo by Etienne Laurent/EPA-EFE
Six presidential candidates took the stage in Las Vegas on Wednesday for a debate ahead of the Nevada caucuses on Saturday. Photo by Etienne Laurent/EPA-EFE

Feb. 20 (UPI) -- Democratic presidential candidates laid out their plans for the future of healthcare and climate action in America during a debate in Nevada on Wednesday.

A field of six -- Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders; former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg; Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren; Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar; former Vice President Joe Biden and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg -- faced off ahead of the state's caucus on Saturday.


The winner of the eventual Democratic primary will face GOP President Donald Trump in the Nov. 3 general election.

The broadcast was the most-watched Democratic debate in television history, NBC News said, with nearly 20 million people watching on NBC or MSNBC.



Sanders faced criticism from the Nevada culinary union that his Medicare for All plan would end their healthcare coverage.

During the debate, Sanders pledged that he would never sign a bill that would reduce healthcare plans for union workers and will "only expand" healthcare for union members and other American workers.

"Somehow or another, Canada can provide universal healthcare to all their people at half the cost. U.K. can do it. France can do it. Germany could. All of Europe can do it," he said. "Somehow or another, we are the only major country on earth that can't do it. Why is that?"

Warren took aim at the healthcare plans put forward by Sanders, Buttigieg and Klobuchar, calling for an incremental approach to secure universal healthcare.

"Healthcare is a crisis in this country," she said. "We need as much help for as many people as quickly as possible and to bring in as many supporters as we can. If we don't get it all the first time, take the win and come back into the fight to ask for more."

Klobuchar called for a health plan that would allow a public healthcare option to compete with private plans, saying that Medicare for All does not have enough support in Congress to be implemented.


"Since we're in Vegas, when it comes to your plan, Elizabeth and Bernie, for Medicare for All you don't put your money on a number that's not even on the wheel," she said.

Climate change

Buttigieg said it was important to put forth a candidate against Trump who is "actually positioned to win" in order to bring about policies to combat climate change as quickly as possible.

"Let's be real about the deadline. It's not 2040. It's not 2030. It's 2020," he said. "Because if we don't elect a president who actually believes in climate science now, we will never meet any of the other scientific or policy deadlines that we need."

Biden said he would focus on transmitting wind and solar energy across the electrical grid, invest in highway charging stations for electric vehicles and high-speed rail. He also pledged to roll back some of the Trump administration's efforts against regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency.

"I would immediately reinstate all of what Trump has eliminated in terms of the EPA," Biden said. "I would once again make sure that we get the mileage standards back up, which would have saved over 12 billion barrels of oil had he not walked away from it."


Warren called for an end to offshore drilling as well as all new drilling and mining on public land but said she would be open to exceptions providing sustainable practices to harvest certain minerals rather than plans that benefit large corporations.

"We cannot continue to let public lands be used by those who don't care about our environment and are not making it better," she said.

Bloomberg said the United States must work with countries such as China and India to end the climate crisis.

"You're not going to go to war with them, you have to negotiate with them. We've seen how well that works with tariffs that are hurting us," he said. "You have to convince the Chinese that it is in their interest as well. Their people are going to die as well as our people are going to die and we work together."

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