Democrats had their first debate of 2020 and their last before the Iowa caucuses.
The Iowa caucuses – happening in just 19 days – set the stage for the rest of the primary season. Most Dem candidates who’ve won Iowa in recent decades have gone on to be the party’s nominee. So while the state doesn’t give candidates a ton of delegates – and is significantly less diverse than the rest of the electorate – it’s the prize candidates were going after last night.
Five top candidates – and billionaire Tom Steyer – were on stage for the seventh of 12 Dem debates. There were the moderates: former VP Joe Biden, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and former South Bend, IN Mayor Pete Buttigieg. And the progressives: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). Also, Steyer. All six faced off to make their case to the American public – and especially to Iowa voters. And covered topics including:
Iran…as in the key issue after tensions reached a fever pitch last week. The split last night was between those who’d pull US troops from the region – Sanders and Warren – and those who think we may need the backup, like Biden, Klobuchar, and Buttigieg. Some made it clear that Iran shouldn’t have nuclear weapons. But no one on the stage is interested in war with Iran.
Trade…as in a big topic for Iowa, whose biggest trading partners are Canada and Mexico. Moderates like Buttigieg and Klobuchar support President Trump’s new trade deal with the two countries. Warren called it a “modest improvement.” Sanders said trade agreements are designed to maximize corporate profits. And Steyer said he wouldn’t sign anything that puts climate in the back seat.
Health care…as in what they’ve been sparring over since day one. Sanders and Warren think Medicare for All is a cure for all. Biden and Klobuchar want to build on Obamacare. And Buttigieg wants you to have all the options.
Education…as in its price tag. Nearly all the candidates agreed there needs to be more affordable child care. Buttigieg says this will help address the gender pay gap. Klobuchar and Steyer said funds need to be redistributed to help lower-income families.
Definitely not diversity. While the debate stage started out as one of the most diverse in history, it’s whittled down to six white candidates getting the primetime spot. Warren did point out that the only two people on stage who’ve won each election they’ve been in are…women. So at least there’s that.
As the list of candidates dwindles, the pressure for a clear frontrunner is growing. But with no clear winner last night, it’ll be up to Iowans to give their first impression rose on February 3rd.
Iran. Yesterday, the UK, France, and Germany put Iran on notice for violating the 2015 nuclear deal. It’s the same deal the US pulled out of back in 2018. Since then, Iran has upped its enrichment of uranium. And last week, amid heightened US-Iran tensions, it announced it would end all commitments to the deal, potentially bringing it within months of developing nuclear weapons. Now, after hoping Iran would come around on its own, the three EU countries are cracking down. They triggered a part of the deal that could force Iran to comply. Otherwise, the countries could trigger the return of UN and EU sanctions, which were paused in 2016.
Skimm More: Our guide explains the latest tensions between the US and Iran, and how the situation could impact the rest of the world.
The House. Today, it’s expected to vote to send the articles of impeachment against President Trump to the Senate. Reminder: Last month, the House impeached Trump, charging him with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress over his dealings with Ukraine. Since then, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has held onto the articles while calling for a “fair” Senate trial, potentially including new witnesses. But now, the articles of impeachment appear to be moving forward regardless, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said a trial is “likely” to start next week.
BlackRock. Yesterday, the world’s largest asset manager said it will start making investment decisions based on sustainability and climate risks. That includes moving away from some investments in coal producers and toward more sustainable investment options.
Not everyone’s clapping: Some groups applauded the company’s move, which could put pressure on other companies to follow a similar strategy. But others aren’t convinced and point to BlackRock’s holdings in major oil and gas companies.
Psst…Feeling inspired? See how you can get in on the investing game here.
The WNBA. Yesterday, it reached a tentative agreement with the players’ union, raising the average salary for players to over six figures – the first time in the league’s history. It will also pay players a full salary while on maternity leave, and allow them to enter free agency more frequently, among other benefits. The deal still needs to be approved by the league’s board of governors but is expected to pass. The WNBA’s commissioner said they were “hoping to lift, not just women in sports and women in basketball, but women in society.” Well done.
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