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Bernie Sanders: How much would his spending plans cost?

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Bernie Sanders’ spending pledges are under scrutiny

Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders is under pressure to explain how he would pay for his policy agenda, as his Democratic rivals say his sums don’t add up.

Sanders has laid out a string of policies – including nationalised universal health care, cancelling student debt, and plans to tackle climate change.

This will cost an additional $40 trillion in government spending over the next decade, according to figures given on his website.

This would be the largest expansion of US government spending since World War Two, almost doubling the Congressional Budget Office’s projected government spending over the next decade.

We’ve taken a look at his spending plans and whether they add up, policy by policy.

Medicare for All

Sanders’ plan would replace private health insurance in the US with a government-run health insurance system.

Under the current US system, government programmes like Medicare and Medicaid provide help with medical insurance to elderly, low-income, and disabled Americans. Everyone else purchases private insurance or goes uninsured.

Sanders wants to expand Medicare to cover everyone, and says this would cost an additional $17.5tn over the next decade.

This would be paid for mainly through higher taxes – the majority of which would target corporations and the very wealthy.

Sanders has also stated employees earning over $29,000 a year (approx £22,000) will pay a 4% higher tax rate.

But critics say his $17.5tn figure falls short of what’s needed, and estimates by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget research group suggest his plan would cost substantially more.

Sanders previously acknowledged the Medicare for All price tag was “about $30 trillion” and his campaign has been accused of moving the goalposts.

Former Democratic presidential contender Pete Buttigieg has said: “Senator Sanders, at one point, said (Medicare for All) was going to be $40tn, then it was $30tn, then it was $17tn. That’s an incredible shrinking price tag.”

But Mr Sanders also argues that the new system would cost the country less than the existing one due to efficiency savings, and cites a Yale University study to support his view.

Bernie Sanders

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What every study out there, conservative or progressive, says is ‘Medicare for All’ will save money

“What every study out there – conservative or progressive – says, Medicare for all will save money,” says Sanders. He believes the extra taxes would be offset by the savings Americans make on their health insurance payments.

Most – but not all – studies agree. An analysis of 22 studies by the University of California found 19 of these predict savings under a Sanders-style plan.

Green New Deal

This proposal aims to reach 100% renewable energy for electricity and transport in the US by 2030, creating 20 million jobs.

Sanders has priced the plan at $16.3tn over the next decade.

The centre-right policy institute American Action Forum said it could cost up to $93 trillion, and President Trump has gone as high as $100 trillion.

President Trump

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The Democrats plan to completely take over American energy and completely destroy America’s economy through their Green New Deal

These figures are widely thought to be overestimates, and Democrats have argued the costs of not tackling climate change are also high.

Sanders says the plan would be paid for largely by the part-nationalisation of the US energy industry, and from tax increases on the fossil fuel industry and other large corporations.

He proposes a saving on military spending by scaling back operations protecting the global oil supply.

Sanders says further funds would be raised through income tax generated by the 20 million new green jobs, as well as less unemployment benefit being paid out.

All this would add up to the $16.3tn price tag proposed by the Sanders campaign.

However, experts say the fundraising methods, particularly surrounding the 20 million new green jobs, rely on broad assumptions, and the Green New Deal proposal is too vague to calculate the total cost accurately.

Student debt and education plans

The latest statistics show almost 45 million Americans owe around $1.6tn in student loan debt.

Sanders says if elected president he would cancel this debt and provide at least $48bn per year to eliminate tuition fees.

He plans to spend around $2.2tn in total on his education plans over the next decade.

Sanders says he would raise around $2.4tn from a tax on Wall Street over the next decade to pay for these plans. This would raise levies on the US financial markets for buying and selling stocks, bonds and derivatives.

Progressive economist Robert Pollin projected that this tax would bring in more than $2.2tn over 10 years, but a study by the Tax Policy Center offers a more conservative estimate of around $750bn.

Others point to Sweden’s implementation of a similar system in the 1980s, which resulted in a drop-off in trading and investors until the tax was abolished.

Housing for all

Mr Sanders says he would build 10 million affordable housing units at a cost of $2.5tn, to be funded by a tax targeting those with wealth above $32m.

Sanders says this would raise more than $4.3tn over a decade.

The scheme’s plausibility has been questioned, as critics say the super rich would move their assets abroad to avoid the tax.

They point to Europe where more than a dozen countries have tried to implement a wealth tax – but only three remain in place due to difficulties enforcing the policy.

Universal childcare and more social security

This plan would guarantee free childcare to every family in America.

Sanders says this would cost $1.5tn over a decade, which would be paid for by the remaining revenue generated by his wealth tax.

As we’ve explained, critics believe these revenue projections are overly optimistic.

As for social security in the US, this includes several welfare programmes including retirement benefits and disability income. Sanders wants to increase these benefits at a cost of $275bn over a decade.

He proposes a tax on Americans earning more than $250,000 (£192,000) annually to pay for this.

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget says the plan would secure these benefits if passed – but may reduce the incentive to work, save and invest.

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US election 2020: Biden endorsed by Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg

US Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has been boosted by endorsements from former rivals Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg.

Ms Klobuchar and Mr Buttigieg both suspended their 2020 campaigns ahead of Super Tuesday, when voters in 14 states will pick their preferred Democratic candidate for November’s election.

They joined him at campaign events in Dallas, Texas, on Monday, where another former rival, Beto O’Rourke, also offered his backing to Mr Biden.

Read more: Key endorsements boost Biden for Super Tuesday

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International Women’s Day Reminds Us That Women Who Lead Get Things Done

International Women’s Day is on Sunday.  It will remind us that women who lead get things done.  This is true even if at the moment in America, election to the presidency remains an unbreakable glass ceiling.

This past week, we saw two great women, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar, suspend their presidential campaigns.  This means that glass ceiling remains intact and it means that even before a single ballot is cast, we know a white man in his seventies will be elected president this year.

We saw very different women campaign for the presidency.  They had different styles and political views.  Different policies and different strengths.  Elizabeth Warren, especially, stood out because she was going her own way.  It’s overly simplistic to categorize her as someone from the Bernie wing of the party.  She has progressive ideas, but they are based on knowledge stemming from a lifetime of research – not merely embracing ideology.

She was the best communicator there.  She also gave the personal touch in a time when communication has given way to messaging.

America isn’t ready for women like Elizabeth Warren, women who are comfortable in their own skin and develop their own ideas.  We saw it as another primary that began with a diverse group of capable people was whittled down to two old white guys. Either of them would be a better president than Donald Trump, but the fact remains women’s fight for a return from the political exile imposed by Trump remains unfinished.

It is a little ironic that tomorrow is International Women’s Day.  It marks another year in which that day is commemorated while American women and girls see the presidency overtaken by male egos and misogyny – not only among candidates but in the media coverage as well.

International Women’s Day also marks another year in which most political news is written by men, which means the “narrative” is defined pretty much exclusively from a white male perspective.

If she’s lucky, the rare woman who writes about politics might get some crumbs – after men have firmly established the parameters of political discussion, saying which issues merit discussion and who qualifies as a strong contender against Donald Trump.

If you’re an intelligent woman and comfortable in your own skin, you’re a bigger threat to the male ego than any other kind of woman.  That was true when my mother was the lone woman standing in her class of biochemists.  It was true of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg when she had difficulty getting a job despite excelling in law school.

The women of that generation had to surpass men in ability just to be equal.  In reality, that hasn’t changed.  The pursuit of equality for women in the classroom and the workplace remains an uphill battle for subsequent generations.  And, we’re losing ground in other areas, as reflected in the Supreme Court’s decision to take up a case that could send our personal autonomy back to the Dark Ages.

The election of Donald Trump proved that misogyny remains a driving force in America.  There is no place in Trump’s America for smart women, regardless of where they were born.

With the exception of his propaganda machine, women were erased from the Trump administration.

A notable exception on the policy side is his daughter, Ivanka, who’s greatest accomplishment is inappropriately sitting in for daddy at the G-20 Summit.

Then there’s Elaine Chao who is under investigation by the Senate her husband controls for ethics violations.  Gee, we’re all wondering how that’s going to turn out.

Even with these two women and Trump’s mouthpieces, misogyny had single party control of the Federal government for two years, achieving nothing before Nancy Pelosi and a group of women retook the House in 2018.

Breathing became a bit easier then.  The one political institution that is led by a woman is also the only thing protecting democracy from a brutal assault by Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Roberts Supreme Court.  The women on the Supreme Court continue to issue insightful and legally substantive dissents, yet the misogynistic majority all but states out loud how cute it is when some smart women “over think” things.

Well, maybe women should do more of the thinking.  The world won’t fall apart when women take charge.  In fact, women make things happen, as we saw with Golda Meier, Benazir Bhutto, and even Margaret Thatcher.  Anyone with knowledge of European politics knows Angela Merkel has a legacy of success and she was one of a handful of people who stood up to Donald Trump.

Moreover, there are many girl wonders who are already making their voices known to the world.  Girls like Greta Thunberg.

Tomorrow I’ll be celebrating all the women who broke down and go on breaking down barriers built by the privileged white male establishment.  That establishment sees Trump, Biden and Sanders united in the same drive for power.  That drive unites more strongly than anything else – including ideology and money.   And I’ll be celebrating how women who lead get things done, and get things done despite white male privilege.

But most importantly, I’ll be celebrating the girls who I hope will see the day when it is normal for women to run for the presidency – and is normal for them to win.

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On the trail: Biden launches biggest ad blitz of his campaign, Sanders attacks amid ‘bloodbath’ warning

ST. LOUIS/DEARBORN — U.S. Democratic presidential candidates Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders campaigned in the Midwest on Saturday, as the two prepare for a showdown in Michigan, Missouri and four other nominating contests next week.

Sanders, 78, who until recently was the front-runner in the party’s race to face Republican President Donald Trump in November, is now trailing in delegates and desperate to regain momentum after Biden, 77, received a rush of endorsements from party establishment figures following his strong “Super Tuesday” showing this week.

Below is a summary of Saturday’s events.


With a rush of momentum, endorsements and campaign contributions flowing in after his strong Super Tuesday showing this week, Biden launched the biggest advertising blitz of his presidential campaign, according to a campaign spokesman who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Until recently, Biden’s campaign was struggling to raise funds. Now, as he looks ahead to Tuesday and more big contests on March 17, Biden is spending $12 million on a six-state ad buy.

The online, digital and TV ads will run in Michigan, Missouri and Mississippi – three states that vote on Tuesday – and Florida, Illinois and Ohio, three of the four states voting on March 17.

Biden’s campaign said on Friday it had raised about $22 million in five days.


Biden called for Democratic unity against Trump at a rally in St. Louis, Missouri, shortly after Sanders attacked his record and Biden had warned against a primary “bloodbath.”

“We’re going to unite this party and unite this country,” Biden said.

Biden thanked former Democratic White House rivals who recently dropped out of the race and endorsed him, including Pete Buttigieg, the former South Bend, Indiana, mayor, and U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

Biden also unexpectedly thanked supporters of Kamala Harris, fueling speculation that the former Democratic presidential candidate may be about to endorse him. Harris, a U.S. senator from California, has been weighing such an endorsement, according to a person familiar with her thinking.

Sanders attacked Biden at a Michigan rally on Saturday, hours after Biden’s warning against a “bloodbath” in the primaries involving the U.S. senator from Vermont and self-described democratic socialist.

Speaking to a crowd in the Michigan suburb of Dearborn, Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, lambasted the former vice president for voting in support of the Iraq war and for trade deals he says cost millions of American jobs, including in Michigan and the Midwest.

“Joe Biden voted for those agreements. I wish I didn’t have to tell you what you already know. Those agreements turned out to be an absolute disaster,” Sanders said, referring to trade deals including the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA.

Sanders also decried Biden’s acceptance of campaign contributions from some billionaires.

“At the end of the day people understand that if you are taking lots of money from billionaires, you’re not going to be there standing up for the working class and the middle class of this country,” Sanders said.

Sanders questioned whether Biden could generate enough energy and enthusiasm to prevail against Trump. But he also called Biden a friend, and said both were in agreement that they would support the other against Trump should the other win the nomination.

On Friday night, Biden told a crowd at a fundraiser in Bethesda, Maryland, he was worried his battle with Sanders for the Democratic nomination could turn ugly.

“What we can’t let happen is let this primary become a negative bloodbath. We can’t tear this party apart and re-elect Trump. We have to keep our eyes on the ball,” Biden said as he telephoned in to the Bethesda event.


The race has become a two-man contest between Biden and Sanders. Tulsi Gabbard, a Hawaii congresswoman, is the only other Democratic candidate still in the nominating contest, but has virtually no chance of winning.

Biden and Sanders will face off on Tuesday in Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, Washington state, North Dakota and Michigan. A big win for Biden in delegate-rich Michigan would deliver a major blow to Sanders’ hopes of becoming the nominee.

The two will likely be the only candidates on stage at the next debate in Arizona on March 15, after new qualifying rules essentially eliminated Gabbard from taking part.


The moderate wing of the Democratic Party has been rapidly coalescing around Biden to stop a Sanders nomination, since Biden’s big win in South Carolina on Feb. 29. On Saturday morning the Biden campaign announced another slew of endorsements from Democratic lawmakers in Missouri – over 60.

Missouri is one of six states to vote on Tuesday, where Biden was due to hold two events on Saturday. Jay Nixon, the state’s former Democratic governor, swung his support behind Biden, leading a well-choreographed army of Missouri officials – 68 in all – to come out in support. They included current and former state politicians, judges, council members and aldermen.

After his rally in St. Louis Biden was heading to Kansas City, Missouri, where he is scheduled to be joined by U.S. Representative Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri, a former Congressional Black Caucus chairman who endorsed Biden in September.


Sanders’ appearance in Dearborn began a weekend of campaigning in the crucial battleground state of Michigan, which offers 125 of the 1,991 delegates needed to win the nomination.

Sanders, who won the Michigan primary in 2016 when he ran unsuccessfully for the nomination against Hillary Clinton, was heading to Flint, Michigan, after Dearborn for a town hall focused on racial and economic justice. On Sunday he is set to visit Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor.

(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt in St. Louis, Michael Martina in Dearborn, Mich., Tim Reid in Los Angeles and Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento, Calif. Editing by Edwina Gibbs and Matthew Lewis)

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It’s Too Late For Dems, They’ve Already Accepted Socialism But America Still Has A Chance

It is too late for the Democrats. They have accepted the Socialists and ANTIFA as part of their party. They favor gun confiscation and taxation. They support the dissolution of the Electoral College and the Republic. There is only one choice, four more years of Trump wins.

A voter who votes for a socialist lacks financial literacy and is more than likely envious of what others have.

U.S. moderate liberals have been saying that the excessively woke nonsense and identity politics far left fixation was NOT what the majority wanted and was undoubtedly not viable on the national stage. Still recall being vilified by far-left woke social justice warriors for my views. Well, guess what: Twitter is not the real world. Welcome to reality.

MORE NEWS: Veteran Confronts Joe Biden for Supporting the Iraq War—’Blood is On Your Hands!’

This shouldn’t be a newsflash for Americans, but Democrats need help. Americans want a President that will put the concerns of EVERYONE above the interests of just the Left or the Right, and even though Pres. Trump tweets like a screaming banshee, his actions are for ALL Americans!

Young voters fail to realize that we older folks like modest changes at a time rather than drastic change that will affect us older people rather than them.

We don’t want to pay for all the freebies that younger voters want and expect. Younger voters are not taking into account that all of the things that Sanders promises to do depends on Congress, not Sanders, to enact, and I can’t believe that Congress would ever agree to enact drastic changes to the budget that would increase our debt to such an extreme degree. It will never happen, and if they did agree to enact a policy that Sanders wants, it would be watered down to such a degree that it would never be free.

Young voters have not learned that nothing is ever free and that you have to work for the things that you want to achieve. It is also true that it is we older voters who go vote in large numbers, and Biden, as an experienced older politician, knows that it is we older voters that he has to get in his corner. Biden may bumble his way through, but you can’t deny that he has the experience to work with Congress to get his ideas enacted.

MORE NEWS: Mitt Romney Indicates He’ll Vote With Dems to Protect Hunter Biden From Subpoena

Sanders NEVER learned to work with Congress. Check his record on getting his bills through Congress. Congress tends to ignore him as a Senator. Why? Because he is too much of a Socialist/Communist. Always has been.

Most 60 and 70-year-olds who spent the 1960s protesting and calling for revolution have outgrown it. Bernie Sanders, not so much. Maybe the younger voters are starting to realize that they will have to pay for all of this stuff Sanders and Warren were promising. My daughter, when she got her first paycheck and realized how much taxes are taken out, complained to high heaven.

For the last two years, Socialist politicians have been the darlings of the mainstream media, pushing and indoctrinating the nation to their liberal view of free for all concepts. Universal healthcare, the climate change agenda, and income inequality are all socialistic philosophies. They are all ways to control more of the masses.

Socialism has only two classes, (1) the poor, which comprise 90 percent of the population. (2) The wealthy will include the other 10 percent and consist of politicians and the super-rich, both will control the police, military, and money. Once you establish a Socialist Country, it is almost impossible to change it. NOTE: Why do you think the Democrats are trying to remove all firearms and ammunition from private citizens? Citizens in Socialists Countries cannot/do not own legal firearms. All but the ten percenters will be considered poor low-class citizens.

MORE NEWS: Director Spike Lee Compares Black Trump Supporters To Slaves

Let’s face it, folks, if the current Democrat candidates are the “best American Democrats have” the UNITED STATES of AMERICA is coming to an end as we know it. America will morph into something resembling Russia, China, Iran, and the UK all rolled up into some horrible life-consuming creature. Families will all need to protect themselves because this new country will consume everyone and everything.

Sanders had no chance in 2016 or this year. His presence only served to magnify the fractured mess the party has become.

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Republicans are still America’s biggest threat

No human being with a conscience, a belief in American values, or a semi-functioning moral compass would dispute the fact that Donald Trump is a despicable human being. Simply put, Trump should never have been allowed to occupy a place he has no right even visiting, and it is an opinion no small number of Republicans held prior to Trump’s unlikely victory in 2016.

That so-called victory enabled Trump to lead the GOP’s long-running assault on America, its people, and its constitutionally-protected democratic institutions. It is easy to lay all blame on Trump for America’s rapid demise as a representative democracy, but the real blame belongs to Republicans in Congress. Trump is only executing policies Republicans have advocated for decades, and they willingly allow Trump to violate constitutionally-mandated procedures to maintain his loyalty to their causes.

No matter how one assesses the current state of American politics, it is no exaggeration to claim that Republicans have willingly abdicated their constitutionally-mandated responsibility to hold the leader of the Executive Branch to his sworn oath to support the nation’s founding document. The sad truth is that the assault on the Constitution, and the American people, began long before Trump’s poorly-attended inauguration. And, they will continue unabated regardless of Trump’s absurd tenure in the Oval Office.

There is little doubt that if a Democrat in the White House acted like the rule of law and the Constitution did not apply to them, congressional Republicans would have impeached and removed them with extreme prejudice. This is certainly true because when Republicans were convinced that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would easily win the 2016 presidential election, they announced plans to spend the next four years investigating the same issues they spent the previous four years investigating only to “find nothing.” Their goal was to quickly impeach Hillary Clinton after she was sworn in office after the election.

Instead of holding Trump to account for, among other things, violating the Emoluments Clause, Anti-nepotism Statute, and the so-called “Take Care” Clause, Republicans in Congress sat on their hands and enabled Trump’s corruption. Despite the Constitution clearly stating it is the obligation of Congress to, for example, impose tariffs, congressional Republicans looked the other way when Trump began his trade war with allies and opponents alike.

It is not that they are ignorant of Trump’s crimes, Republicans just don’t care because he willingly signs any Republican legislation that crosses his desk and duly appoints every hyper partisan religious conservative Moscow Mitch McConnell submits to infect the federal judiciary.

There is no better proof that McConnell’s flagrant disregard for the Constitution is on par with Trump’s than his refusal to “allow” then-President Barack Obama to fill a vacant seat on the Supreme Court. McConnell also led his party’s concerted efforts to obstruct any other of President Obama’s choices to head federal agencies, as well as nominate officials to fill vacant positions on the federal judiciary. The Constitution is clear in how SCOTUS and judicial vacancies are to be filled, but McConnell, like Trump, doesn’t adhere to the document he swore a “so help me god” oath to support and defend.

Although there are many theories regarding why Republicans continue supporting and protecting Trump from facing the consequences of leading a corrupt administration, it is most likely that Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman called it correctly. Republicans willingly support Trump’s lies, racism and authoritarian tendencies simply because Trump’s primary agenda is the Republicans’ agenda; raiding the Treasury to further enrich the already wealthy. And, if any American believes Republicans are finished using Trump they are beyond delusional. The theocrats in the GOP cannot control America’s women without Trump’s assistance in creating what Republicans and their religious right supporters demand – a Christian-run judiciary founded on the Christian bible’s Ten Commandments..

It is almost certain that Republicans know well that Trump should have been impeached and removed from office before he could inflict serious damage on the country. Instead, they have sat idly by and allowed Trump to implement policies,  including those put in place by Republican administrations, to sate his vile xenophobic acolytes and evangelical sycophants lusting for an American Christian theocracy.

It is obvious to any decent American that to preserve what remains of American values Trump has to go. However, it is just as crucial to put an end to Senate Republicans led by Mitch McConnell. Moscow Mitch and his cohorts in the GOP will continue abusing the Constitution and the American people to further enrich the already wealthy and corporations.

If McConnell and Trump remain in power Americans can prepare for and expect a proper annihilation of domestic social programs and any policy intended for the general welfare of the people. Some might wonder why Republicans failed to convict Trump after he did the GOP’s bidding with tax cuts for the rich and began a vicious deregulation frenzy, but Trump’s announcement on Thursday signaled why Republicans still need him in the White House. He said he would fulfill the GOP’s long-standing dream of slashing Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid to reduce the trillions-of-dollars the Republican tax cuts added to the deficit.

America’s women may as well prepare to accept their fate as official third class citizens, because with McConnell’s valuable assistance Trump has created a federal judiciary Hell-bent on eliminating any and all semblance of a woman’s fundamental human right to self determination regarding her own body. In that sense, like giving the rich and corporations the keys to the Treasury, Trump and his Republican enablers have given the religious right the federal judiciary they demanded to eliminate a women’s right to control their own bodies.

Of all the vile things one might say about Donald Trump, it is that he is the personification of a hardline, nasty Republican. Over at Esquire Charlie Pearce summed up best the major problem plaguing America today. Mr. Pearce wrote that: “Trumpism is Republicanism inflated with poison gas.”

If Democratic candidates for any office fail to remind voters of that simple fact, then they can expect Republicans to do well in November regardless of Trump’s chances of re-election.







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Tulsi Gabbard doesn’t have enough delegates to be in the next debate

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard finally won some delegates: She came in second in the American Samoa caucuses on Super Tuesday, winning two pledged delegates.

That win doesn’t put her in contention for the nomination — she’d need 1,899 more delegates to become the nominee — but under the rules for the last Democratic debate, it would get her on the stage.

Under the new rules, however, she will not be invited to the next Democratic debate on March 15.

Xochitl Hinojosa, the Democratic National Committee’s communications director, tweeted Tuesday evening that “of course the threshold will go up.”

“By the time we have the March debate, almost 2,000 delegates will be allocated,” Hinojosa wrote. “The threshold will reflect where we are in the race, as it always has.”

Friday, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) announced what the new threshold will be, as Cameron Peters explained for Vox:

To qualify, candidates will need to have earned at least 20 percent of all delegates available from the primary so far. Right now, that means only two candidates have qualified: former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders.

This means that even if Gabbard were to take home all of the delegates on offer in March 10’s contests — something virtually impossible under the DNC’s rules for allotting delegates based on proportion of vote share — she still would not have enough delegates to be invited to the debate: in such a scenario, she would have only 367 of the 373 needed delegates.

The new guidelines are a marked change from the criteria for getting into the February 25 debate in Charleston, South Carolina. Then, the DNC said candidates had to have one or more of the following: at least 12 percent support in two DNC-approved South Carolina polls, at least 10 percent support in four DNC-approved national polls, or at least one delegate from any contest that had been held so far.

As Hinojosa noted, the DNC has worked to make the rules for debate participation more stringent as the primary has gone on. When the primary started, a candidate had to have at least 1 percent support in at least three state or national polls or have raised money from at least 65,000 individual donors (spread over at least 20 states, with at least 200 donors in each of those states).

As time went on, candidates had to meet both a polling and individual contribution requirement. Eventually, both the contribution and polling level thresholds became more exacting, leading to a number of candidates then still in the race, like Sen. Cory Booker and writer Marianne Williamson, being excluded.

As the increasingly high debate bar began to exclude candidates of color, there were calls to loosen the restrictions to ensure the debates featured diverse perspectives. In December, nine candidates came together and sent a letter to the DNC saying the increasingly difficult to meet debate criteria had “unnecessarily and artificially narrowed” the race.

The DNC dismissed this criticism but did announce a major change in February — no longer were individual contributions required. The move was widely seen as being made to allow former candidate and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg onto the debate stage. And it upset a number of the candidates, including Sen. Bernie Sanders, who called the decision “the definition of a rigged system.”

The DNC disregarded the criticism, and Bloomberg appeared in both the Nevada and South Carolina debates. Now, with most candidates — including Bloomberg — out of the race, the DNC has changed the debate rules again, meaning the race’s last woman candidate and last candidate of color will not appear in the next debate.

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Democrats Taking More Precautions Than Republicans Amid Coronavirus Spread, Poll Shows

The outbreak map dashboard showing statistics on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States during a briefing from Johns Hopkins University on Capitol Hill on March 6, 2020 in Washington, DC. Johns Hopkins has been on the forefront of researching the coronavirus and developed the outbreak map dashboard that is being used by officials worldwide to track the virus.
Samuel Corum/Getty

Democrats are more likely than Republicans to be taking precautionary measures in response to the spread of the coronavirus in the United States, a new Reuters/Ipsos poll has found.

In the survey, conducted from March 2 to 3, about 48 percent of Democratic respondents said they washed their hands more often to prevent transmission of the virus, 10 percentage points higher than the same share of Republicans.

Twenty-one percent of Democrats reported taking steps to avoid physical contact with others, 7 percentage points higher than Republicans who report the same. And 8 percent of Democrats have recently altered travel plans, nearly three times the share of Republicans who have also done so.

In fact, 54 percent of Republicans said they haven’t changed their daily routine whatsoever, compared with just 40 percent of Democrats who say they haven’t.

Panic and concern over the virus have caused stocks of masks, hand sanitizer, disinfectant and other hygienic equipment to deplete swiftly. At least 17 people in the United States have died from COVID-19, the disease cause by the coronavirus.

President Donald Trump, his administration and an ad hoc task force led by Vice President Mike Pence have sought to allay fears, but questionable claims and misinformation has imperiled their grip over the public-facing portion of the crisis.

Pence recently promised that “roughly 1.5 million tests” for COVID-19 would be made available, after critics noted that the government did not appear to have an effective plan to account for the potentially rapid spread of the virus.

However, an estimate from The Atlantic concluded that fewer than 2,000 people, it appears, have actually been tested in the United States.

Trump himself has contributed to the flow of misinformation, which, critics contend, may be leading fervent supporters to dismiss scientific best practices.

The president said in a recent interview that people sick with the virus could convalesce “by sitting around and even going to work,” contradicting advice that prescribes self-quarantines for individuals suspected of being ill.

He also said he doesn’t believe the actual death rate of the virus is as high as 3.4 percent, which is the number officials at the World Health Organization have currently ascertained.

“I think the 3.4 percent is really a false number,” Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity. “Now, this is just my hunch…but based on a lot of conversations with a lot of people that do this, because a lot of people will have this, and it’s very mild. They will get better very rapidly. They don’t even see a doctor.”

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2020 becomes the dementia campaign

2020 is suddenly becoming the Dementia Campaign.

President Donald Trump’s own public blunders—saying that his father was born in Germany when it was really his grandfather, or referring to Apple CEO Tim Cook as “Tim Apple”— have prompted recurrent commentary throughout his term questioning whether his cognitive faculties are deteriorating.

Now that the 77-year-old Biden is the Democratic frontrunner over the 78-year-old Bernie Sanders to take on the 73-year-old Trump, questions about age-related infirmity are taking on a new volume and centrality.

The debate reflects the raucous, attack-oriented character of modern political culture. Genuine concerns about the capacities of people who want the world’s most powerful job mingle bizarrely with insults, jokes, and self-confident pronouncements from people with no evident qualifications to be speculating publicly about other people’s neurological health.

As highlighted by Carlson’s comments — one example among many from commentators in recent days — a subject that in a previous era would be in no way a laughing matter is being treated in this era as in many ways a laughing matter.

Trump himself — seemingly indifferent to the glass-houses maxim — in recent days has upped the ante in what is becoming the senility sweepstakes.

On Monday he said if Biden is elected, “They are going to put him in a home and other people are going to be running the country.” At a “town hall” on Fox Thursday, Trump cited verbal stumbles by Biden and asserted, “There’s something going on there.” Friday morning on Twitter he said Biden would destroy Medicare and Social Security “and not even know he’s doing it.”

Concerns about the physical and mental frailties of older presidents are far from a new phenomenon. Ronald Reagan faced questions about potential mental decline in 1984, when in a general election debate he recited an anecdote that wandered off to nowhere, a full decade before he announced he was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Dwight Eisenhower in 1955 suffered a massive heart attack that sidelined him for weeks. Eager to show that they were not repeating deceptions of declining health that marked the late presidencies of Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt, Ike’s physicians gave medical updates that included reports of his bowel movements.

But discussions of presidential health in those earlier times were made with a kind of hushed solemnity that now seems eons away. Modern media often takes the sort of conversations that political operatives and reporters have always had and loudly amplifies them for a mass audience.

In the case of both Biden and Trump, as their public appearances often vary widely in crispness and command of detail, the reporter-operative conversation increasingly sounds something like the way family members discuss an elderly relative, trying to distinguish normal aging from something more troubling.

“I’m becoming worried, Dad really seemed lost at dinner.” “No, no, that’s just because all the ambient noise makes it hard for him to hear. One-on-one he’s as sharp as you or me.” “I don’t know, sis, I don’t think you are facing facts.” “Oh, so now this is about me?!”

Even in his early days in the Senate, where he arrived at age 30 in 1972, Biden was known for a garrulous and sometimes discursive style. In the context of a presidential campaign, however, this can cause raised eyebrows.

At the most recent Democratic debate, which was generally praised as a forceful performance by Biden, his answer on whether he would allow Chinese firms to build U.S. critical infrastructure was, arguably, cumulatively coherent even though many individual sentences were not: “No, I would not. And I spent more time with [Chinese leader] Xi Jinping than any world leader had by the time we left office. This is a guy who is, who doesn’t have a democratic, with a small ‘d,’ bone in his body. This is a guy who is a thug, who in fact has a million Uighurs in ‘reconstruction camps,’ meaning concentration camps. This is a guy who you see what’s happening right now in — in Hong Kong, and this is a guy who I was able to convince should join the international agreement at the Paris agreement because, guess what, they need to be involved. You can cooperate and you can also dictate exactly what they are, when in fact they said, ‘We’re going to set up a no-fly zone, that you can’t fly through our zone.’ He said, ‘What do you expect me to do?’ when I was over there. I said, ‘We’re going to fly right through it.’ We flew B-1 bombers through it. We’ve got to make it clear. They must play by the rules. Period, period, period.”

Trump partisans eager to exploit Biden’s circuitous words may wish first to review the large anthology of Trump classics. These include the president’s remarks to the National Republican Campaign Committee last April, when he free-associated about Democrats’ promotion of alternative energy: “Hillary wanted to put up wind. Wind. If you ― if you have a windmill anywhere near your house, congratulations: Your house just went down 75 percent in value. And they say the noise causes cancer. You tell me that one, OK? ‘Rrrrr, rrrrr’ you know the thing that makes the ― it’s so noisy. And of course it’s like a graveyard for birds. If you love birds, you’d never want to walk under a windmill because it’s a very sad, sad sight. It’s like a cemetery.”

He continued in this vein, then his mind moved vagrantly to North Korea negotiations, before returning to windmills with a lurch, by invoking a hypothetical couple who can’t watch TV because there is no wind: ”No, wind’s not so good. And you know, you have no idea how expensive it is to make those things. They’re all made in China and Germany, but the way, just in case you’re ― we don’t make ’em here, essentially. We don’t make ’em here. And by the way, the carbon, and all those things flying up in the air, you know the carbon footprint? President Obama used to talk about the carbon footprint, and then he’d hop on Air Force One, a big 747 with very old engines, and he’d fly to Hawaii to play a round of golf. You tell me, the carbon footprint.”

The strangeness of these remarks got ample news coverage at the time, but not much from conservative commentators. In recent days, however, many of these people gleefully have trained fire on Biden. Examples from recent days, compiled by my colleague Rishika Dugyala, suggest at least a loosely coordinated campaign on the right.

Fox News’ Sean Hannity, who often speaks with Trump, said it is “a legitimate question” whether the former vice president has “the stamina and the strength, the mental acumen and the focus required to serve in what is the most difficult job in the world, period … without a doubt, Biden is struggling.” Carlson, who also speaks informally with Trump, said Biden has “clearly lost it,” and “is noticeably more confused now than he was even last spring when he entered the race.” Radio host and author Ann Coulter said that “no Republican with that level of senile dementia that Biden has” could run for president because they would be savaged by the media.

The problem for “the media,” like for voters generally, is that there is no solid consensus about how to assess cognitive health, what types of medical records should be in the public domain especially for aging candidates, and no way to enforce that consensus if it existed. The issue is especially acute now that so much power in American government is held by people over age 65. While rates of dementia are going down gradually in the United States, 65 is the age at which geriatric researcher Kenneth Langa at the University of Michigan found that 20 to 25 percent of people have mild cognitive impairment and 10 percent have dementia. Six members of the Supreme Court are over 65, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will turn 80 on March 26, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last month turned 78.

In Trump’s case, he has often gotten lost rhetorically in precisely the same ways for which he mocks Biden. He once referred to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as “Betanyahu.” In December, more than 700 psychiatrists and other mental-health professionals submitted a petition to Congress during the impeachment inquiry warning that President Donald Trump’s mental health was rapidly deteriorating. MSNBC commentator Joe Scarborough, who has known Trump for years, said comments the president made speculating that if Andrew Jackson had come later he might have prevented the Civil War reminded Scarborough of his mother’s struggles with dementia. The Morning Joe host also told his audience in 2018, “It’s getting worse, and not a single person who works for him doesn’t know he has early signs of dementia.”

Accusations that politicians may be drifting toward non compos mentis typically can’t be divorced from political differences that don’t concern age.

Glenn Greenwald, publisher of the Intercept, who is backing Sanders, said on Twitter: “The steadfast, willful refusal of Dem political & media elites to address what is increasingly visible to the naked eye — Biden’s serious cognitive decline — is frightening indeed, not only for what it portends for 2020 but what it says about the ease of snapping them into line…” He was responding to one of his reporters saying that Biden is “sundowning.”

Matt Stoller, another voice on the left and Sanders backer, said on Twitter: “Democratic insiders know Biden has cognitive decline issues. They joke about it. They don’t care.”

In fact, a kind of ghoulish gallows humor about the issue is widespread in political circles in both parties, in part because people simply don’t see much alternative. My colleague Marc Caputo said on Twitter that a Democratic operative with presidential campaign experience described the likely 2020 race like this: “the nice old guy with Alzheimer’s against the mean old man with dementia.”