Democrats onstage Tuesday night at the CNN/Des Moines Register debate in Iowa were challenged repeatedly by moderators on the cost of major plans like Sen. Bernie Sanders' Medicare for All—scrutiny that was missing in the first half hour when the questions focused on endless war and a potential attack on Iran.
"Wonder if CNN asked how much going to potential war with Iran cost?" asked artist Karla Ortiz.
"Amazing how the moderators didn't ask how the candidates plan to pay for wars."
Questions on costs and how the presidential candidates proposed to pay for their proposals appeared to use an analysis provided to CNN Tuesday by Larry Summers on the cost of the Sanders agenda. The majority of the questions on cost were directed to Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
But those questions only came in the second hour of the debate, and were absent during the discussion on foreign policy.
Progressives quickly noted the disconnect.
"None of the candidates who said they support keeping troops in Iraq were asked how they were going to pay for it," tweeted Sanders campaign national organizing director Claire Sandberg.
Policy analyst Dan Riffle was incredulous at the line of questioning.
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"They just asked 27 questions about sending troops to the Middle East and preventing Iran from developing nukes and not once asked how they'd pay for it," said Riffle. "But not letting poor people die? Whoa, what's the price tag on that?!"
Social media lit up with commentators and observers from the left taking aim at the difference in approach from the moderators.
Amazing how the moderators didn’t ask how the candidates plan to pay for wars— Sarah Lazare (@sarahlazare) January 15, 2020
Why do Dems have to show how they will pay for it when Trump straight up says Mexico will pay for the wall? When Republicans haven't explained how they will pay for their disastrous tax cut? When this country spends trillions on useless wars? We can't find money for health care?— Wajahat "Abu Khadija" Ali (@WajahatAli) January 15, 2020
Amazing how that works. No question about “how we’re gonna pay for it” when Wolf spent 15 questions grilling candidates on whether or not they want to keep troops in the Middle East forever https://t.co/fqTepf4yYd— Adam H. Johnson (@adamjohnsonNYC) January 15, 2020
"If you didn't ask 'how do you pay for it' when it comes to the disastrous war budget, bank bailouts, or oil company subsidies, you have little to stand on," said Sanders surrogate Nina Turner. "Show the receipts!"