Tuesday’s Cruz-Sanders Obamacare debate

The Two Senators mid debate

image taken from: Masslive.com

Last Tuesday, February 7th, Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) faced off in a debate about the future of healthcare in America. More specifically, the pair sparred about the Affordable Care Act (often known as Obamacare) and whether or not it should be replaced by a new healthcare bill or not. Cruz took a pretty hardline stance against Obamacare, claiming that while healthcare was desirable, the ACA failed to provide it effectively. Meanwhile, Sanders took a more moderate stance, agreeing that the policy was flawed, but he wants to improve it rather than repeal it entirely.

The debate was a town hall style, meaning that instead of the moderators asking questions, they were delivered by the crowd. However, the questions were almost certainly pre-approved, so in practice there isn’t a very large difference.

In addition, a fair number of questions seemed like clear plants for one side or the other. For example, Sanders was told by a small business owner that Obamacare was limiting the expansion of her business, while Cruz faced questions from a woman who said her life was saved by the policy. Both handled the questions well, though Sanders often came off as somewhat patronizing towards the audience.

Because of Sander’s position on the issue, the two initially found themselves in some agreement. For example, they both thought that insurance companies were too powerful, but they had radically different solutions. Cruz wanted to increase competition by allowing insurance sales across state borders (in addition to other measures), while Sanders felt more government input was necessary. However, Sanders was less able to defend his position, and instead faltered under questions about the actual effectiveness of government input. Meanwhile, Cruz seemed to argue his case much better, and was able to come off as far more credible.

After the senator’s initial agreement, the debate went somewhat downhill. While the issues were definitely still discussed, the debate devolved a lot, to the point where the two debaters spent almost two minutes arguing about the relative merits of Vermont and Texas as states. To be fair, the moderators were able to keep the debate on track, (even connecting the state argument into the issues) and it was certainly more productive than any of the presidential debates. The last major point of the debate was Sanders talking about his own healthcare plan, something that Cruz demonstrated was financially unfeasible.

By the end of the debate, it seemed clear that Cruz had won pretty decisively. While no polling is currently available on who the voters think won the debate, Cruz was far more put together and well spoken, while Sanders was more discombobulated and often knocked off balance by Cruz. Both Senators still made reasonable and well thought out points, however, so it’s hard to say it was a complete route. Anyway, who won is more of a moot point, as neither candidate is up for election anytime soon. The more important thing is the discussion that was had.

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