Castro and Biden Spar Over Semantics, Health Care

The other candidates weren’t having it.

Brian Cahn/ZUMA Wire

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro sparred with former Vice President Joe Biden in a contentious moment at Thursday’s third Democratic presidential debate, arguing that Biden couldn’t keep the facts straight about his own health care plan. But Castro seems to have misheard Biden’s own words.

Castro said that Biden’s plan would leave 10 million Americans without health insurance by requiring Americans to opt in to receive coverage.

“You would require them to opt in, and I would not require them to opt in. They would automatically be enrolled,” Castro said. “That’s a big difference, because Barack Obama’s vision was not to leave 10 million people uncovered.”

Wearing a shocked facial expression, Biden replied, “They do not have to buy in. They do not have to buy in.”

“Are you forgetting what you said two minutes ago?” Castro said, as the audience gasped. “I can’t believe that you said two minutes ago that they had to buy in, and now you’re saying they don’t have to buy in.”

Earlier in the debate Biden had in fact said that those who couldn’t afford private insurance would be automatically enrolled in the public option.

“Anyone who can’t afford it gets automatically enrolled in the Medicare-type option we have,” he said about 10 minutes earlier. He did, however, use the phrase “buy in,” saying, “If you lose the job from your insurance company, from your employer, you automatically can buy in to this.”

South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) were unamused with the squabble.

“This is why presidential debates are becoming unwatchable,” Buttigieg said. “This reminds everybody of what they cannot stand about Washington. Scoring points against each other. Poking at each other.”

Klobuchar chimed in, “A house divided cannot stand.”

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.