2020 Democratic debate: Sanders, Biden and a party divided?

As the second night of Democratic debates kicks off ahead of the 2020 election, ideological differences between former Vice President Joe Biden and Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders are likely to attract heavy attention following Wednesday's debates which featured the ten other candidates including Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Cory Booker, D-N.J. andRep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, to name a few.

While Biden can point to his experience working within an administration, Sanders is pushing an establishment-ending revolutionary-type campaign.

The pair highlights divisions within their party. Freshman New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, for example, recently criticized Biden’s “middle of the road” position on climate change. On the other hand, some think Biden’s more moderate appeal could attract a larger voting base. He has advocated for a united future, built on working with Republicans across the aisle to “help make government work.”

One of the key things experts will be watching for during Thursday’s debate is whether any of the candidates will cater their messages toward groups aside from the “activist left.”

“Will any of them use this national television exposure to reach out to moderates, independents, and unhappy Republicans?” Cato Institute executive vice president David Boaz mused in a comment to FOX Business.

Boaz also said he would be looking to see whether any of the candidates would promise not to raise taxes or increase the deficit. Many progressive members of the party have pushed tax hikes as a means to fund other social policies.

Sanders and Biden join many other Democratic contenders in their wish to undo Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Biden has also said the capital gains tax is too low.

Meanwhile, Sanders has advocated for an expansion of the estate tax. The tenured senator also wants to impose a Wall Street speculation tax, which would be levied on trades of stocks, bonds, and derivatives.

Another area the pair might agree on is that wealthy companies should pay their fair share. Biden found himself locked in a skirmish with e-commerce giant Amazon for saying “they should pay a few taxes.” Amazon hit back, claiming Biden’s problem is with the U.S. tax code.

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But Amazon – among a host of other retailers – has found itself targeted by Sanders, too. Sanders’ Stop BEZOS Act put pressure on the online retailer to raise its minimum wage to $15 per hour.

Biden and Sanders will be joined on stage by Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., South Bend Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, California Sen. Kamala Harris, entrepreneur Andrew Yang, California Rep. Eric Swalwell, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and author Marianne Williamson.


Yang has garnered attention for his universal basic income proposal. Harris has a free-cash plan of her own. Buttigieg’s strong social media presence earned him attention soon after announcing his candidacy.

The second debate will take place starting at pm ET on Thursday, hosted by NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo.