The healthcare conversation during Thursday’s 2020 Democratic presidential debate was mostly sour and infuriating. Then Julián Castro blew it all up, and took Joe Biden along with him.
Up until that point, Biden had mostly been tangling with Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. You know how this goes by now: Biden leveling disingenuous attacks on Medicare for All, Warren and Sanders parrying, George Stephanopoulos asking bad questions. (Pete Buttigieg also managed to throw in a remarkably conservative answer on healthcare...he sucks.)
At one point, Biden said this about the public portion of his healthcare plan:
“If you want Medicare, if you lose the job from your employer, you can automatically buy in to this.”
Enter Castro. Some minutes later, he turned to Biden.
“You require them to opt in [to Medicare], and I would not require them to opt in. They would automatically be enrolled. They wouldn’t have to buy in,” he said.
“They do not have to buy in,” Biden said. “They do not have to buy in.”
“You just said that two minutes ago!” Castro shot back, and, as Biden tried to say that people would automatically buy in if they had no money, Castro went way for the jugular. “Are you forgetting what you said two minutes ago?” he asked.
There was a “holy shit” gasp in the crowd, since Castro was going, well, there. Biden’s mental faculties have been a subject of persistent debate, and Castro highlighted the issue with an astonishing ruthlessness. I’m kind of still shaking honestly.