CNN Democratic debate night 1

By Veronica Rocha, Meg Wagner and Amanda Wills, CNN

Updated 9:42 p.m. ET, July 31, 2019
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9:16 p.m. ET, July 30, 2019

Fact check: Sanders said Amazon doesn't pay federal income taxes. He's right (for the past 2 years).

From CNN's Brian Fung

Mark Peterson/Redux for CNN
Mark Peterson/Redux for CNN

Sen. Bernie Sanders claimed that Amazon pays not “one nickel” in federal income taxes. 

“Companies like Amazon that made billions in profits did not pay one nickel in federal income tax.” 

Facts First: Sanders is correct — for the previous two tax years, Amazon’s own financial filings showed that it expected to receive money back from the federal government, not that it owed money. 

According to an analysis by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy for the second year running, Amazon made a profit of more than $11 billion in 2018, but reported a $129 million tax rebate from the federal government.

Amazon does pay state taxes, and has also paid federal taxes in the past. The Wall Street Journal reported recently that Amazon’s overall tax rate from 2012 through 2018 was 8%.“From 2012 through 2018, Amazon reported $25.4 billion in pretax US income and current federal tax provisions totaling $1.9 billion,” the Journal reported. “That is an 8% tax rate — low, but not zero or negative. Looking back further, since 2002, Amazon has earned $27.7 billion in global pretax profits and paid $3.6 billion in global cash income taxes, a 13% tax rate.” 

Amazon’s SEC filings in 2017 show it did not expect to owe any federal tax, and in fact expected to get a $137 million refund from the federal government. It did, however, say it expected to pay $211 million to states. 

9:01 p.m. ET, July 30, 2019

Bernie Sanders defends Medicare for All: "I wrote the damn bill!"

From CNN's Gregory Krieg

Rep. Tim Ryan said Sen. Bernie Sanders’ promises around "Medicare for All" were wrong, and that maybe the Vermont senator wasn’t clear on the numbers.

Sanders shot back:

I do know that. I wrote the damn bill.

Ryan was one of at least four other moderates on stage to attack Sanders – and Sen. Elizabeth Warren to a lesser extent – over the single-payer proposal drafted by Sanders and his team.

During another tense exchange over the plan, Delaney suggested that Sanders and Warren simply misunderstood the health care system.

“I don’t think my colleagues understand the business,” Delaney said.

Sanders cut him off, disputing Delaney’s framing: “It’s not a business,” he said.

This goes to the heart of the Medicare for All debate. The two sides are talking a lot, but largely past each other. Sanders and Warren want to remove the profit-motive from the system, to take the "business" out of health care. The moderates don’t think that’s feasible and believe the private insurance industry is inextricable from the system -- and necessary for delivering care to Americans.

Watch the moment:

9:06 p.m. ET, July 30, 2019

Warren says she'd decriminalize illegal border crossings


Sen. Elizabeth Warren defended her position that making border crossings a crime is unnecessary.

"The problem is that right now, the decriminalization statute is what giving Donald Trump and the opportunity to take them away from their parents. It's what gives him the ability to lock up people at our borders. We need to continue to have border security, and we can do that. But what we can't do is not live our values."

CNN's Dana Bash then asked this follow-up question: "Just to clarify, would you decriminalize illegal border crossings?"

"Yes," Warren said.

Watch the moment:

8:48 p.m. ET, July 30, 2019

Buttigieg: "It is time to stop worrying about what the Republicans will say"


Mayor Pete Buttigieg said it's time Democrats "stand up for the right policy" and "stop worrying" about what the GOP says.

"It is time to stop worrying about what the Republicans will say," Buttigieg said.

He continued: "If it's true that if we embrace a far-left agenda, they're gonna say we're a bunch of crazy socialists. If we embrace a conservative agenda, you know what they're gonna do? They're gonna say we're a bunch of crazy socialists. So let's just stand up for the right policy, go out there and defend it."

Watch the moment:

8:49 p.m. ET, July 30, 2019

Sanders to Jake Tapper: "Your question is a Republican talking point"


Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said CNN moderator Jake Tapper's question during an exchange over Medicare for All tonight was a "Republican talking point."

The question was: "Are you not willing to fight for 'Medicare for All' as Sen. Warren has suggested?"

Here's what Sanders said:

"What I am talking about and others up here are talking about is no deductibles and no co-payments and Jake, your question is a Republican talking point. At the end of the day and by the way, and by the way, by the way, the health care industry will be advertising tonight on this program."

Earlier in the debate, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren brought up the issue about Democrats using Republican talking points.

"Look, let's be clear about this. We are the Democrats. We are not about trying to take away health care from anyone. That's what the Republicans are trying to do. And we should stop using Republican talking points in order to talk with each other about how to best provide that health care," she said.

Watch the moment:

8:40 p.m. ET, July 30, 2019

Bernie Sanders to Delaney: "You're wrong" on Medicare for All

From CNN's Gregory Krieg


Former Maryland congressman John Delaney came out swinging against Sen. Bernie Sanders and "Medicare for All," blasting it as a political loser.

Sanders, after listening to the attack, replied simply: “You’re wrong.”

After a back-and-forth over the prospects of the plan, Sen. Elizabeth Warren jumped in to defend Sanders and make the case for Medicare for All.

Then she dropped the line that might live on from this exchange, telling Delaney that Democratic opponents of Medicare for All should “stop using Republican talking points.”

Watch the moment:

8:34 p.m. ET, July 30, 2019

Moderates come out firing against Sanders and Warren

From CNN's Gregory Krieg


Before Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren said a word, they were under attack.

Moderates John Delaney and John Hickenlooper used their opening statements to warn against the progressive policies being pushed by the senators, saying they risk setting up Democrats to lose in 2020.

Delaney compared their candidacies to losing liberal campaigns from the past.

Hickenlooper pointed to the 2018 midterms, and the Democrats’ success in flipping dozens of House seats. But none of those new members, he said, “shared the policies” of Warren and Sanders.

It’s early, but it’s a good bet that we haven’t heard the last of this brand of attack.

Watch Bernie Sanders respond: 'You're wrong.'

8:28 p.m. ET, July 30, 2019

What you need to know about 5 common health care plans

From CNN's Tami Luhby

Many Democratic candidates are expected to talk about their health care ideas tonight. Here's your guide to what five of the most talked-about plans and proposals mean:

Medicare for All

This proposal, spearheaded by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, would radically change the way Americans are covered, shifting control to the federal government and essentially eliminating the private insurance industry.
Under Sanders’ plan, Americans would be enrolled in a national health insurance program, also known as a “single-payer” system, which many other developed countries have. The federal government would run the program, and it – and taxpayers – would pay the bills.
Medically necessary services would be covered and there would be no premiums, deductibles or co-pays. It would expand the current Medicare benefit package to include vision, dental, hearing and long-term care at home or in the community. Nursing home and other institutional services would be covered under Medicaid.
Private insurers aren't banned, but they can't sell policies that cover benefits provided by the federal plan. That leaves them with a very niche market -- covering elective services, such as cosmetic surgery.

Public option

More moderate candidates are pushing for a so-called public option, which is a government-backed insurance plan.
While a public option can take several forms, several contenders would add such a plan to the Affordable Care Act exchanges.
Theoretically, the public option should be more affordable for consumers because the government could use its heft to negotiate lower rates with doctors and hospitals and to reduce costs. How effective it would be depends on how it's set up, and most candidates haven't delved into the nitty gritty details.
Some seeking the nomination see a public option as an initial step towards a Medicare for All-type overhaul. But others say the best way to extend coverage to more Americans is to offer a public plan and also increase federal subsidies for Affordable Care Act policies. 

Affordable Care Act

This is Obamacare, and it affects all Americans’ health care today. Passed in 2010, the landmark law made sweeping changes to the nation's health care system. Some of its more notable provisions included creating the individual insurance market exchanges and expanding Medicaid to more lower-income Americans, both of which began in 2014. 
Some 11.4 million people signed up for 2019 policies on the exchanges, and 12.7 million folks are covered by Medicaid expansion. 
The law allowed children to stay on their parents' policies until the age of 26. And it barred insurers from denying coverage or charging higher rates to consumers based pre-existing protections. Insurers must also provide comprehensive benefits, including prescription drugs, maternity and mental health. 

Employer-sponsored insurance

Roughly half of Americans — or more than 150 million people — get their health insurance through their jobs today.
Three-quarters of the public have favorable views of work-based coverage, according to a new poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Of those with such plans, 86% rate their coverage as either "excellent" or "good."
But these policies have become much more expensive in recent years. Annual premiums for a family plan cost almost $20,000, on average, last year, with workers contributing about $5,550 and employers paying the rest, according to another Kaiser survey.
Since 2008, average family premiums have increased 55%, twice as fast as workers' earnings and three times as fast as inflation, according to Kaiser.
Deductibles have also risen swiftly, contributing to the financial pinch many Americans feel when they need medical care. The average deductible for an individual is now nearly $1,575 for those workers who have one, up from $735 in 2008, Kaiser found.


Created in 1965, this federal program provides health insurance for roughly 60 million elderly and disabled Americans. It covers hospitalization, rehabilitation and doctors' visits, but not vision, hearing, dental and long-term care.
Medicare enrollees pay premiums, have deductibles and typically pay 20% of many medical services. There is also no out-of-pocket spending limit for hospitalization or outpatient services, unlike Affordable Care Act and employer plans. About three in 10 enrollees buy supplemental Medigap plans from insurers to help defray the cost of care, while roughly the same number are covered by retiree health plans from their employers.
Starting in 2006, Medicare began offering prescription drug coverage — known as Part D — through private insurers that contract with the government.
About one-third of Medicare participants are enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans offered by private insurers. Some have to pay premiums, and most, if not all, have to share the cost of medical care. These policies are required to limit enrollees' out-of-pocket spending to $6,700 and may provide supplemental benefits, such as vision and dental. However, not all doctors and hospitals accept Medicare Advantage plans, while most do accept traditional Medicare.
Some candidates also favor a so-called Medicare buy-in plan, which would allow those younger than 65 to purchase Medicare or Medicare Advantage policies.
8:31 p.m. ET, July 30, 2019

This is how each candidate kicked off tonight

Gabriella Demczuk for CNN
Gabriella Demczuk for CNN

The 10 candidate delivered their opening remarks at the Democratic debates in Detroit.

Here are some key quotes from their remarks:

  • Steve Bullock: "Look, I'm a pro-choice, pro-union, populist Democrat that won three elections in a red state, not by compromising our values but by getting stuff done."
  • Marianne Williamson: "We the American people must rise up and do what we do best and create a new possibility, say 'no' to what we don't want and 'yes' to what we know can be true."
  • John Delaney: "I'm the product of the American dream. I believe in it. I'm the grandson of immigrants, the son of a construction worker."
  • Tim Ryan: "Most families when they go to sit at the kitchen table to do their bills, they get a pit in the middle of their stomach. We deserve better. And the political system is broken, too, because the entire conversation is about left or right, where are you at on the political system and I'm here to say this isn't about left or right. This is about new and better and it's not about reforming old systems. It's about building new systems and tonight, I will offer solutions that are bold, that are realistic, and that are a clean break from the past."
  • John Hickenlooper: "Some will promise a will or plan for tonight but we focused on was making sure we got people together to get things done, to provide solutions to problems, to make sure that we work together and created jobs. That's how we're going to beat Donald Trump. That's how we're going to win Michigan and the country."
  • Amy Klobuchar: "You're going to hear a lot of promises up here, but I'm gonna will tell you this. Yes, I have bold ideas but they are grounded in reality. And, yes, I will make some simple promises. I can win this. I'm from the Midwest. And I have won every race, every place, every time."
  • Beto O'Rourke: "I'm running for president because I believe that America discovers its greatness at its moments of greatest need. This moment will define us forever, and I believe that in this test America will be redeemed. In the face of cruelty and fear from a lawless president, we will choose to be the nation that stands up for the human rights of everyone, for the rule of law for everyone and a democracy that serves everyone."
  • Pete Buttigieg: "I'm running for president because our country is running out of time. It is even bigger than the emergency of the Trump presidency. Ask yourself how somebody like Donald Trump ever gets within cheating distance of the oval office in the first place?"
  • Elizabeth Warren: "Our problems did not start with Donald Trump. Donald Trump is part of a corrupt, rigged system that has helped the wealthy and the well connected and kicked dirt in the faces of everyone else."
  • Bernie Sanders: "We have got to take on Trump's racism, sexism and come together in an unprecedented grassroots movement that not only defeats Trump, but to transform our economy and our government."