After a somewhat controversial process, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) released the list of candidates who qualified to participate in the third round of primary debates.
The qualified candidates include former Vice President Joe Biden, Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), mayor of South Bend, Ind., Pete Buttigieg, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Tex.), former Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julián Castro, and entrepreneur Andrew Yang.
This will be the first time all of the top-ranking candidates will share one debate stage, meaning everyone will be looking to set themselves apart as the clear choice to be the nominee to take on President Donald Trump.
With the moderates and progressives all on one stage, here are a few of the issues candidates may use to set themselves apart from the crowded field:
Medicare for All
As IJR previously explained, there are two main camps Democrats have chosen as the best path forward on health care. Sanders has been a champion to the leftwing of the party by pushing for the universal health care option Medicare for All. This policy would place all Americans under the Medicare system. The policy has two subgroups: those who wish to abolish private health care and those who just want Medicare to be a public option for all Americans. Sanders would abolish private insurance while candidates like Buttigieg and Harris plan to leave it as an option.
On the other side of the debate, candidates like Biden want to rebuild the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare. Some propose adding a public option to the plan, but it would be much narrower than those proposed by the Medicare for All proponents. This deal is also a fraction of the cost as Medicare for All has a sticker price of $32.6 trillion over ten years.
Green New Deal
Initially proposed by freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), the Green New Deal is a proposal that would mobilize the U.S. economy to combat climate change with an ultimate goal of becoming independent from fossil fuels. While all of the candidates support the goals of the Green New Deal, some have hesitated to fully support the proposal due to its $93 trillion price tag. Some have proposed cheaper alternatives for their climate strategy, as IJR previously reported.
Mandatory Gun Buybacks for Assault Weapons
Following the recent mass shootings in Ohio and Texas, gun violence prevention has been a top issue for the 2020 elections. While there are several ideas being floated around including Red Flag laws, gun license requirements, and universal background checks, one dividing issue for Democrats is whether to confiscate assault weapons. Most of the Democratic candidates are on board with reimplementing the 1994 assault weapons ban on gun manufacturing, but mandatory gun buybacks are a more controversial position.
Decriminalizing Border Crossings
President Trump’s immigration policy has been one of the most controversial parts of his presidency — specifically his “zero-tolerance” policy which required that those arrested at the border be detained during their immigration hearing. This resulted in some family separations, which have been widely condemned by 2020 Democrats. As a result of the arrests occurring at the border, some have suggested repealing the statute that classifies illegal border crossings as a criminal offense to switch it to a misdemeanor. Several 2020 Democrats favor decriminalization because it means that families will not be arrested — or separated — for illegally crossing the border. Other Democrats see it as a step too far. Many Republicans see it as an “open borders” policy.
Canceling Student Debt
In the U.S., students owe more than $1.5 trillion in student debt, a burden that could be negatively impacting the entire economy. While all of the 2020 Democrats have acknowledged that student loan debt is a problem, there are different ideas about how far the U.S. should go in reducing that burden. Sanders, for example, proposed eliminating student loan debt entirely. Others support small-scale changes, like refinancing options, instead of expensive student loan forgiveness plans.
The third round of the debates will take place on Sept. 12 in Houston. ABC and Univision will be hosting the debate with George Stephanopoulos, David Muir, Linsey Davis, and Jorge Ramos moderating.