Photos via Gage Skidmore

Democratic Debate, Round 2: Key Things to Watch


As the Democratic candidates prepare for the second round of presidential debates Tuesday and Wednesday night, here are four key candidates whose economic agendas I’ll be watching for:

Joe Biden

Biden will likely come out swinging after his last debate performance was broadly criticized for appearing overly tired. On economic issues, I am most looking forward to seeing if he puts forward a more centrist vision than he has thus far in the campaign. While Biden has held back support for Medicare-for-All by continuing to champion Obamacare, he has held the socialist line on tax policy, stating the “first thing” he would do as president is repeal the Trump tax cuts and calling for an additional doubling of the capital gains tax rates paid by the rich.

Missed by progressives like Biden is that our economic pie is infinite, and that the wealth created by others does not make the rest of us poorer. Since Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffet have proven themselves to be extraordinarily successful stewards of investment capital, why would we want to take more money out of their hands and place it in the hands of Nancy Pelosi?

Kamala Harris

In this round, I will be watching to see if Kamala Harris makes clear what team she is on in the Medicare-for-All debate. As I previously wrote:

One of the more awkward moments to emerge from the first 2020 Democratic presidential debates occurred when Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) attempted to walk back her support for banning every single private health insurance plan in America.


Now that Harris has walked back her support for kicking over 150 million Americans off their health insurance plan and forcing them into a government-run solution, can we take her seriously again?

Not quite.

It turns out Harris is also an original co-sponsor of Sanders’ “Medicare-for-All” bill that — you guessed it — bans private health insurance. She literally introduced the bill with him.

If Kamala Harris is now claiming not to support her own legislation, she ought to make that clear in the next debate. Completely banning private health insurance in America is a radical (not to mention deeply unpopular) policy position that would put Harris on the lunatic fringe of our nations’ economic policy debate.

Is she going to pander to socialist activists, or is she going to put forward a serious economic plan this time around?

Beto O’Rourke

For Beto, I’ll be watching to see if he drops out on stage. I mean, seriously, how much longer can he possibly handle being the object of fascination due to his spectacular falling out of favor with the Left? This campaign is a joke. He couldn’t drop out a moment too soon. It’s probably best that the next time he speaks Spanish on the debate stage he says “Adios.”

Elizabeth Warren

Some pundits have predicted that Elizabeth Warren would seek to challenge or differentiate herself from Bernie Sanders since they both share center stage at the first debate. But I imagine it will be more of a schmoozefest between the two. They’ll probably spend the evening complimenting each other at the expense of more moderate Democrats.

However, Elizabeth Warren actually added much greater intrigue to her campaign last week when she wrote an op-ed predicting an imminent economic crash — a pretty bold strategy given that more Democratic politicians and pundits seem to believe the economy is relatively strong. Elizabeth Warren is basically challenging the president on his home turf since the majority of Americans support President Trump’s handling of the economy. I look forward to seeing if she elaborates on her op-ed further while on stage.

That’s all I’ve got — I look forward to seeing how it shakes out at the debates!

Photos via Gage Skidmore

Jonathan Decker

Jonathan Decker is the Chief Economic Correspondent for

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