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Democratic presidential hopefuls former US vice president Joe Biden (L) and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (R) take part in the 11th Democratic Party 2020 presidential debate in a CNN Washington Bureau studio in Washington, DC on March 15, 2020. (Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

Democratic presidential hopefuls former US vice president Joe Biden (L) and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (R) take part in the 11th Democratic Party 2020 presidential debate in a CNN Washington Bureau studio in Washington, DC on March 15, 2020. (Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

Debating Bernie on Medicare for All and Coronavirus, Biden Declares: 'I Don't Want to Get This Into a Back and Forth in Terms of Our Politics'

"This coronavirus pandemic exposes the incredible weakness and dysfunctionality of our current health care system," said Sanders. "We need Medicare for All."

Jon Queally

As Democratic presidential candidates Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders debated Sunday night over the failures of the U.S. healthcare system that have been dramatically exposed by the current coronavirus pandemic rattling the nation, Biden argued against the need for Medicare for All, defended the private insurance industry, and said now was not the time to debate key ideological differences.

"This coronavirus pandemic exposes the incredible weakness and dysfunctionality of our current health care system," Sanders said during an exchange early in the debate as he advocated for his Medicare for All plan in the context of the current crisis.

Watch:

Biden argued coronavirus testing and treatment should be free to all Americans to combat the current outbreak, but continued to espouse his belief that such a policy should not be extended for other diseases or illnesses.

"Look, this is a national crisis," said Biden. "I don't want to get this into a back and forth in terms of our politics."

"This is like we are being attacked from abroad," Biden said. "This is a war. And in a war, you do whatever it takes to take care of your people."

Strikingly, as Sanders and others noted, the war analogy deployed by Biden does not—in the current for-profit system—extend to people at risk of economic bankruptcy or death from health threats other than COVID-19.


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Biden Urged to Sign Executive Order Guaranteeing Rail Workers Paid Sick Leave

After the president brokered a compulsory contract without a single paid day off for illness, one labor advocate implored him to "put up or shut up about how you really want them to have sick leave!"

Brett Wilkins ·


Campaigners Demand Deep Cuts to Plastic Production as Global Treaty Negotiations Ramp Up

"The scale of the problem is mind-boggling," said one advocate. "Plastic is in our blood. It's in fetuses. It's really encroaching on every aspect of human existence."

Julia Conley ·


Putting 'Profits Over People', Senate Rejects Paid Sick Leave for Rail Workers

"Senate Republicans and Joe Manchin have yet AGAIN failed working Americans by voting down seven days of paid sick leave for rail workers," lamented Rep. Jamaal Bowman.

Brett Wilkins ·


'We Must Cancel Student Debt,' Activists Argue as SCOTUS Agrees to Hear Case in February

"The right-tilted Supreme Court now holds in the balance relief for millions of hardworking Americans," said one campaigner. "It would be a giant loss for the economy if justices rule in favor of the special interests."

Jessica Corbett ·


A Labor Revolt Is Brewing... Inside the National Labor Relations Board

"From Congress, we demand funds, not furloughs," says the NLRB union. "From NLRB General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo, we demand collaboration, not coercion."

Kenny Stancil ·

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