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Second Democratic Debates: What BPC Experts Are Watching For

Washington, D.C. – As the Democratic presidential candidates get ready to take the stage for the second round of debates, BPC experts have prepared a pre-debate brief highlighting the key policy issues expected to play a central role in Detroit tonight and tomorrow.

“I’m interested in hearing about three topics: retirement security, energy policy, and how the candidates aim to reach a majority of the American people,” says Jason Grumet, BPC president. “While the obvious challenge now for Democratic contenders is winning the primary, the more important goal for Democrats is winning the election and the most important question for the country is whether we will ever again have a president who can summon the trust and support of a majority of the American people.”

Senior Vice President Bill Hoagland will be looking for answers and clarifications to three main areas of interest: 1) the future of health care, 2) controlling the high cost of prescription drugs, and 3) the exhaustion of Part A of the Medicare Trust Fund in 2026.

“My simple question to the Democratic candidates is, ‘Are you proposing to turn over complete federal government control of 60 percent of all private health care spending? Isn’t that what Medicare-for-All means?’ Besides the potential tremendous disruption to our current private-public health care system, simple math would also suggest that such a policy would cost, at minimum, $25 trillion over the next decade,” Hoagland says. “How would it be paid for? Are there not alternatives to Medicare-for-All that would be less disruptive and less costly than scrapping our private-public health care system?”

Shai Akabas, director of BPC’s Economic Policy Project, and economic policy analyst Kody Carmody will be closely monitoring how the presidential candidates plan to address Social Security’s financing challenge.

“Unfortunately, politicians have shown little interest in reaching across the aisle to enact real Social Security reform. Hopefully, the next debates will see candidates display a sense of urgency on this issue, offering specific proposals to address this challenge that is confronting the American people,” Akabas says.

Jason Grumet, Bill Hoagland, and Shai Akabas are available for comment.