Listen: News Brief: Presidential Debate, EPA Changes Clean Water Rules
"Now we know what it looks and sounds like when all the Democratic presidential contenders share the same stage that's right the ten leading leading candidates met in Houston Texas Joe Biden who's been leading in the polls stood near the centre. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders stood to either side. Now it'd be hard to say that anybody decisively one debate so many months before actual voting but this event did seem to highlight genuine differences among Democrats including those three the at center stage. What were the differences well? NPR POLITICAL REPORTER ASTHMA Hollywood is in Houston Good Morning Aspe- and our senior political editor and correspondent Dominica Montinaro was watching Ching to Dominica Good morning to you and let's start with you Dominica. What did you see is? Those candidates spoke well. I mean you know the big thing here is that this was the strongest debate eight at least to start for Joe. Biden was crisper than he's been. He seemed ready to go on the attack but he also got some help early on and that's a big part of why is able to do better from amy cloche are the senator from Minnesota. She really decided to Kinda hug the moderate lane and seemed to put a floor under Biden in didn't wind up turning turning into a pylon like it has an other debates pylon Joe Biden and instead there was this division in the Democratic Party was several candidates on either side and asthma something in close to I I think close to half an hour of disagreements on a single big issue healthcare that's right and we've seen other healthcare debates in the first chew debates but what I think is unique about this. One is at the focus of the healthcare conversation for much of this campaign cycle has been concentrated on the progressive left specifically around around Bernie Sanders Medicare for all plan last night. Biden was much more aggressive in defending his ideas around healthcare and I want you to take a listen to specific bite of what he had to say. I think I know that the senator says she's for Bernie Yeah. I'm for Barack. I think the obamacare worked. I think the way we added to it replace everything that's been cut at a public option guarantee that everyone will be able to have affordable assurance. I guess we should clarify. Senator says she's for Bernie. He's he's referring to Elizabeth. Elizabeth Warren yes exactly and you know the Biden. Campaign sees this argument as a clear strength for him in war and world and people sort of laugh at the idea that health insurance people like their health insurance company. They'll say people like their doctor. They like their nurse and Massachusetts. Senator doesn't really want to take the bait in specifically wind Biden is pushing around this idea of taxes and costs which is something we saw last night. They feel like that's an intellectually dishonest honest argument about whether or not taxes on the middle class will go up the thing that really you ought to look at total cost but I would say look a lot of voters aren't going to get that distinction between between costs and and taxes kind of lost in the details what they're essentially acknowledging your taxes would go up aren't they but they're saying your other cost your other healthcare costs would go down in many cases so we've got Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren favouring Medicare for all but as Dominica mentioned Joe Biden was not the only person saying wait but let's do something a little more a little more moderate here and Dominica just mentioned actually specifically Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar who defended many times this idea of healthcare Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has made a point of saying he wrote the Damn Bill around Medicare for all so he knows that people are mischaracterizing it well. Here's what Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar had to say about that while Bernie wrote the bill I read the bill and on page eight age eight of the bill. It says that we will no longer have private insurance as we know it. I don't think that's a bold idea. I think it's it's a bad idea and this idea of eliminating choice is something we also heard from south. Bend Indiana me or Buddha judge who tied his idea his plan called a medicare for all who want it and basically he says that you should trust the American voters to do what they want to have the sense to choose what they opt for okay so quite substantive debate bait there. Maybe not a lot that was new but people could sit there and look at the differences between the candidates. Now we mentioned that there were ten Democrats on stage but sometimes it seemed seemed almost like there were eleven. Let's listen I WANNA give credit I to Barack Obama for really bringing us this far. We we all know huge debt to President Obama who fundamentally transformed healthcare in America and of course we owe a debt of gratitude to President Barack Obama Dominica at sounds like President Obama had a pretty good bay. It's quite a difference from what we've heard in past debates when they've been pretty critical of Obama's tenure as not progressive aggressive enough of those newly warm feelings tell me they recognize Biden still in the lead and just how important older black voters who've been really supporting Biden are to who wins this nomination. I mean President Obama is still very popular within the Democratic Party and a lot of voters who we've talked to on the campaign trail sorta chafed at this idea that there were sort of dismissing him especially with President trump in the White House. They're saying well. How far do they want to go? we kind of liked to what President Obama had to do. I guess we should be explicit about this of course Joe Biden. Having Been Barack Obama's vice president naturally associated with Obama's record Glenn he's wrapped himself in President Obama and everyone else has sort of seeded the lane which was kind of jaw dropping to be totally honest. There was also a difference last night on gun laws Beto total rourke Democrat of Texas noted early on that his city. I'll pass oh just suffered a mass shooting just weeks ago and he was pretty definite about assault style rifles hell yes. We're GONNA take your fifteen. Ak47 what does he want to do. And how does that. Compare to the other candidates on stage so he's proposing a mandatory gun buyback program Stephen you heard that line was so enthusiastically received in the debate hall all but that that just shows you. It's really popular maybe with the activist base of the Democratic Party. Most of the candidates do agree on some sort of version of voluntary gun buyback back program but our work is going further with this mandatory idea. I think what's really interesting. Is that when you look at the broader electorate mandatory Tori gun buybacks are really controversial recent. NPR PBS Newshour Mayor's poll found that forty six percent of Americans are against Congress passing such legislation Asian forty five percent are in favour and really the divide splits along partisan lines Dominica one of the question for you. We've talked about the five or six leading candidates. It's did anybody a little bit further down in the polls standout. All you know you look at over work. I mean he certainly was in full remote reboot mode of his candidacy and all these other candidates are starting to feel the heat and they were really trying some hail Marys yet Andrew Yang with this competition to give out a thousand dollars to to ten different people. Amy Klobuchar went for broke in the moderate Lane it who Leon Castro forcefully going after Joe Biden at several turns so you had a lot out of these candidates realizing that votes are going to be cast shortly and had to take some risks last night the Medico s Mahala. Thanks so much you're welcome. That's that's. NPR's here's dominicos Montinaro and NPR's Esfahan. The trump administration is changing what qualifies is as the waters of the United States the head of the Environmental Protection Agency signed off on the repeal of an Obama era era regulation for many years federal law has aimed to limit pollution in lakes and rivers the administration of President Obama extended that rule in ways that would regulate pollution on wetlands and smaller waterways they were to be regulated in part because they flow into the bigger waterways. EPA Administrator a straighter Andrew Wheeler argued that rolling back that rule would reassure farmers and home builders and landowners NPR's brought is covering this story for us and he's on the line naked morning hey steve what regulation exactly so what scrapping regulation that was finalized in the waning days of the Obama Administration called the waters of the the US rule or for short okay because you know as well as I do Steve Every federal policies only as strong as its acronym. That's not on August acronym. I got but anyway go basically with the waters United States did was tried to define which rivers streams wetlands and lakes should deserve protection under the Clean Water Act the clean water act itself largely limits pollution in big navigable waterways. That's the term in the actual statute but court decisions including a ruling from the Supreme Court left the door or open for protections to expand off of those bigger waterways so like you said not just the river but the stream that feeds into it or the wetland next to it and Obama wanted to basically officially officially extend federal water protections to that larger connected water system with this regulation. I guess we should just underline the basic problem. Here is gravity. You want to protect the rivers. The Big rivers offers you WANNA protect the big lakes but essentially all land I mean everything flows downhill into something and so how do you how far you extend that protection inland. Why did the trump trump administration consider Obama's approach to be a power grab? Well you know this change was not terribly popular with a number of groups farmers developers minors they saw all this is they did many Obama environmental regulations as a federal land grab in an overreach of what the Clean Water Act was actually intended to do and look the rules certainly expanded federal water protections to new waterways but was I think was as is the case with a lot of these policies one way or the other There's a lot of rhetoric where the on the ground impact is a a little harder to discern part of that be in this rule is because it was immediately challenged in court by some of the groups that we just mentioned and the trump administration was clear from let's start that this rule was one of its top environmental targets so in some ways it was kind of a dead rule walking. Oh so we never really found out how much landowners and other other people might have been affected had this rule been fully implemented. No it was only implemented in two thousand fifteen and and and was challenged by a number of states so do we have any sense now of how landowners and other people will be affected now that the rule is conclusively debt again say you know those groups are groups are thrilled ruled by this decision. EPA Chief Andrew Wheeler announced repeal to applause at the National Association of Manufacturers Headquarters yesterday but this rule like many many of the trump administration's regulatory rollbacks is going to be challenged in court so at the end of the day the impact is probably going to be discerned by court decision very very briefly as my drinking water is supposed to be affected by this again hard to say you know in the media the federal water protections are GonNa Revert back to where they were in nineteen"