Dems Tussle at Key Labor Forum in Nevada

Joe Biden defends Obamacare, while Elizabeth Warren promotes 'Medicare for All'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 3, 2019 4:15 PM CDT
Dems Tussle at Key Labor Forum in Nevada
Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary and Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro speaks during a candidate forum on labor issues Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019, in Las Vegas.   (AP Photo/John Locher)

Democratic presidential candidates' tussle over health care reform and Barack Obama's legacy continued Saturday, with former Vice President Joe Biden declaring he's "against any Democrat who wants to get rid of Obamacare." Biden spoke during a forum held by the nation's largest public employees union in Nevada, the state that will cast the first votes in the West in next year's primary. He was one of 19 Democratic hopefuls scheduled to speak before the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents 1.6 million workers nationwide, the AP reports. His comments marked a stark contrast with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who said she plans to transition to a government-run "Medicare for All" system. From the candidates:

  • Warren pledged that union members would be fully compensated for what they negotiated under their private plans, but didn't provide more details on how. She instead tried to redirect attention to the Trump administration's efforts to have federal courts declare the entire Affordable Care Act law unconstitutional.
  • Former Obama Cabinet secretary Julian Castro, who sparred with Biden over immigration in a recent debate, said it's not an attack on Obama to acknowledge Democrats can do better on immigration and other issues.
  • Beyond immigration and health care, candidates Saturday spoke to union workers about kitchen-table issues such as bolstering collective bargaining rights, raising the minimum wage, and taxing the wealthy. Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey said he'd give people who work at home taking care of disabled family members a tax credit.
  • Billionaire activist Tom Steyer extolled the value of union membership as he highlighted his commitment to raise taxes on the rich and use his personal fortune to fight on climate change and improve voter turnout.
  • Author Marianne Williamson, meanwhile, was hit with an audience question about her position on vaccines. She's faced pushback for saying the government shouldn't be allowed to tell people what to do with their children, a comment she later walked back. She said she's "fine" with schools mandating children get vaccines before attending.
  • Former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke gave emotional remarks about an unfolding shooting in his hometown of El Paso, Texas, and left the forum shortly after speaking to head home.
  • Nearly every candidate pledged to put someone from organized labor in their Cabinet if elected.
(More Democratic presidential candidates stories.)

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