Elizabeth Warren Won the Debate. Will It Matter?

Elizabeth Warren Won the Debate. Will It Matter?

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Plus: Trump economists say GDP growth will fall short of 3%
Thursday, February 20, 2020

Elizabeth Warren Won the Debate … but Will It Matter?

The fight was on. The gloves were off. The knives were out. Whatever metaphor you prefer, Wednesday night’s vigorous Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas was worthy of the city known for hosting pugilistic prize fights.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren delivered a dominating and brutally effective performance. She landed shots against each of the other candidates, carving up the newcomer to the stage, Michael Bloomberg, over his record on civil rights, his failure to release his tax returns thus far and his treatment of women.

Bashing on Bloomberg: Warren set the tone for the debate early on. “I’d like to talk about who we’re running against," she said. "A billionaire who calls women ‘fat broads’ and ‘horse-faced lesbians.’ And no, I’m not talking about Donald Trump. I’m talking about Mayor Bloomberg.” Warren repeatedly used the billionaire former New York mayor as a proxy for the president, reinforcing the perception that she would be able to go toe to toe with Trump on a debate stage.

“It was the kind of aggressive performance that allies and even some of her campaign advisers had been hoping for, even if it marked a sharp shift from her recent strategy of appearing as an above-the-fray candidate who could unite Democrats,” Shane Goldmacher and Reid J. Epstein write in The New York Times. “She had one-liners. And twice she plowed through the weaknesses of so many of her opponents in a single answer that it left moderators struggling to even give everyone a chance to respond.”

Turning health care into a strength: One of those instances was on health care, which Warren managed to turn from a liability to something resembling a strength. She dismissed Pete Buttigieg’s “Medicare for All Who Want It” as little more than “a slogan that was thought up by his consultants” and said it would leave millions unable to afford their care.

“It's not a plan. It's a PowerPoint,” she said.

Then she turned to Sen. Amy Klobuchar, with what Kaiser Health News called a misleading attack. “Amy's plan is even less,” she claimed. “It's like a Post-It note, ‘Insert Plan Here.’”

Warren ended her barrage by hitting Sanders, saying he “has a good start, but instead of expanding and bringing in more people to help, instead, his campaign relentlessly attacks everyone who asks a question or tries to fill in details about how to actually make this work. And then his own advisors say, yeah, probably won't happen anyway.”

But will it be enough to lift Warren’s chances? Warren’s team touted the fundraising boost she got during the debate, and her performance could reinvigorate her campaign, which also boasts a strong organization in Nevada and beyond. But more than 70,000 Nevadans took advantage of the state’s early voting, potentially undercutting any post-debate bounce. “Warren’s challenge will be how to carry forward her momentum and stay in the hunt until Super Tuesday,” Politico’s Christopher Cadelago said.

Sanders may be the real winner: Sanders faced attacks from Warren and other candidates over his Medicare-for-All plan, his identification as a Democratic socialist, the bullying behavior of some of his supporters and the fears that his candidacy will polarize the electorate. But he deflected most of those attacks and emerged from the debate largely unscathed.

“The story of this debate,” Politico’s Tim Alberta tweeted, “is Elizabeth Warren eviscerating all of her rivals except the one who happens to be the frontrunner and also happens to be directly obstructing her path to the nomination.”

Warren to Billionaire Sheldon Adelson: Here’s Your Wealth Tax Bill

Warren came out swinging against Bloomberg in the Democratic debate Wednesday night, and then took aim at a different billionaire the next day. The Warren campaign ran a full-page ad in the Las Vegas Review-Journal Thursday that calculates how much money Sheldon Adelson — the billionaire owner of the newspaper, who is a major Republican donor and supporter of President Trump — would owe the federal government if the wealth tax proposed by the Massachusetts senator were to take effect.

“Here’s how much Sheldon Adelson pays under Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax in the first year: $2,300,000,000,” the ad says, before listing the ways the money could be used, including providing “free, high-quality child care” for 91,000 Nevada families and the elimination of “tuition and fees at all of Nevada’s public universities, community colleges, and public trade schools.” The Warren campaign valued Adelson’s personal wealth at $39.6 billion and said the tax would claim less than 6% of his net worth.

Jon Ralston of the Nevada Independent, who served as a moderator in Wednesday’s debate, highlighted Warren’s aggressive move on Twitter, saying, “I think that’s called chutzpah.” (Click here for Ralston’s tweet, which includes a photo of the Warren ad.)

Trump Economists: GDP Growth Will Be Short of 3%

President Trump and Republican lawmakers promised an economic boom in the wake of their tax cut package in 2017, but growth rates have remained below 3% annually — well below the 5% touted by the president and the 6.7% rate required to pay off the cost of the cuts.

On Thursday, Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers released its annual Economic Report of the President, which projects economic growth of 2.4% this year and 2.3% the next.

Faster growth would require policy changes, the economists said, including more tax cuts, more deregulation, immigration reform or an infrastructure package. “Most of these policy changes require Congress’s help, an unlikely scenario as long as Democrats control at least one chamber of Congress,” The Washington Post’s Heather Long says.

Quote of the Day: Mick Mulvaney Hits the GOP for Deficit Hypocrisy

“My party is very interested in deficits when there is a Democrat in the White House. The worst thing in the whole world is deficits when Barack Obama was the president. Then Donald Trump became president, and we’re a lot less interested as a party.”

– Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney at a private gathering in England on Wednesday night, according to an audio recording obtained by The Washington Post. Mulvaney also said that the country needs more legal immigrants: “We are desperate — desperate — for more people. We are running out of people to fuel the economic growth that we’ve had in our nation over the last four years. We need more immigrants.”

And he reportedly answered a question about why the government was not spending and doing more to fight climate change by saying, “We take the position in my party that asking people to change their lifestyle dramatically, including by paying more taxes, is simply not something we are interested in doing.” The Post reports that the audience laughed at his answer.

Former Xerox researcher Larry Tesler, who is credited with creating the cut, copy and paste functions we all use on our computers, has died. He was 74. "Your workday is easier thanks to his revolutionary ideas," Xerox said in a tweet. That's certainly true for us.

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Number of the Day: 41%

Covered California, the state's Affordable Care Act exchange, announced this week that new enrollment rose 41% in 2020 after the state reinstated the individual mandate and expanded the law's insurance subsidies, Axios’s Caitlin Owens writes. “If California is acting as a real-life test case for what happens when policymakers beef up the ACA, the experiment seems to be going well, at least in terms of coverage numbers,” Owens says.

On the other hand, the number of enrollees renewing coverage was down 8%. “That could be due to the strong economy,” the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Larry Levitt tweeted. “It could also signal a problem retaining consumers due to high costs.”


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