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2020 candidates view Trump's broken promise to working Americans as path to beating him

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., listens to questions in the spin room after the Democratic primary debate hosted by NBC News at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Art, Thursday, June 27, 2019, in Miami. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

On the second night of the 2020 Democratic presidential debates Thursday, Democrats were mostly in agreement that the economy is not working for millions of Americans and laid the blame squarely on President Trump’s shoulders.

They looked past strong GDP growth and record-low unemployment and focused on financial issues hurting working families like stagnant wages, income inequality, health care, and the $1.6 trillion student loan debt crisis.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has advocated for Medicare for all and the cancellation of student loan debt, took the opportunity to lay down a path to beat Trump by focusing on the financial struggles of working families.

“Last poll I saw had us 10 points ahead of Donald Trump because the American people understand that Trump is a phony, that Trump is a pathological liar and a racist, and that he lied to the American people during his campaign. He said he was going to stand up for working families,” Sanders said. “Well, President Trump, you're not standing up for working families when you try to throw 32 million people off their health care that they have and that 83% of your tax benefits go to the top 1%. That's how we beat Trump: We expose him for the fraud that he is.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden promised to put an end to Trump’s signature 2017 corporate tax cuts. “Donald Trump has put us in a horrible situation. We do have enormous income inequality,” he said.

California Sen. Kamala Harris echoed the others’ concern over Trump’s tax cuts and the need to address income inequality. “This economy is not working for working people,” she said. “I am proposing that we change the tax code, so for every family that is making less than $100,000 a year, they will receive a tax credit that they can collect up to $500 a month, which will make all the difference between those families being able to get through the end of the month with dignity and with support or not.”

‘Who has the guts to take on Wall Street’

Democrats’ united front against Trump shattered when California Rep. Eric Swalwell said Biden should pass the torch on to a younger generation that could better address gun violence, student debt, and a rapidly changing workforce under threat from automation and technology.

“I was 6 years old when a presidential candidate came to the California Democratic Convention and said it's time to pass the torch to a new generation of Americans. That candidate was then-Senator Joe Biden. Joe Biden was right when he said it was time to pass the torch to a new generation of Americans 32 years ago. He is still right today,” said Swalwell.

Graphic by David Foster/Yahoo Finance

Biden jumped at the opportunity to defend himself and focused on the need for better access to education. “I'm still holding on to that torch,” he said. “There is a lot we can do, but we have to make continuing education available for everyone so that everyone can compete in the 21st century. We are not doing that now.”

Sanders rejected the notion that age would be a factor in candidates’ abilities to address economic challenges. “It's not generational,” he said. “The issue is, who has the guts to take on Wall Street, to take on the fossil fuel industry, to take on the big money interests who have unbelievable influence over the economic and political life of this country?”

As Democrats continued to bicker, Harris returned the focus to the plight of working-class Americans.

“America does not want to witness a food fight, they want to know how we are going to put food on their table,” she said. “In our America, no one should have to work more than one job to have a roof over their head and food on the table.”

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