Speed Reads

2020 Democratic debates

Biden shrugs off health-care costs when Sanders brings up Canada: 'This is America'

Primary debates offer an important opportunity to shake out the differences between candidates with similar ideologies, a service that is all the more necessary when there are twenty of them running. The beginning of Thursday night's Democratic debate involved plenty of that sort of elbow-throwing as the candidates tried to make space for their own plans to address the question of health care in America, and things got particularly spicy between two of the front runners: former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Biden had been on the defense against Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) over his support of ObamaCare, which the senators had argued left too many people uninsured. "I think — I know that [Warren] says she's for Bernie, well, I'm for Barack," Biden had said early in the night. "I think the ObamaCare worked."

But Sanders fiercely pushed back on that statement. "Now let's be clear, Joe," Sanders said. "We are spending twice as much per capita on health care as the Canadians or any other major country on Earth."

"This is America," said Biden.

"Yeah, but Americans don't want to pay twice as much as other countries," Sanders shot back. "And [other countries] guarantee health care to all people ... What people want is cost-effective health care." Watch the prickly exchange below. Jeva Lange