Presidential candidate Michael Bennet talks health care, education at Dartmouth

by Eliza Gallant | 10/10/19 2:00am

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Bennet spoke to an audience of around 70 students and community members at the Hop.

by Lorraine Liu / The Dartmouth

Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bennet visited Dartmouth on Tuesday night for a campaign event at the Hopkins Center. Speaking on issues including health care, education policy and economic mobility, Bennet addressed a crowd of around 70 students and community members. 

Bennet, a U.S. senator from Colorado, is one of 19 major Democratic candidates vying to run against President Donald Trump in 2020. National and state polling show Bennet polling between zero and one percent nationally and in New Hampshire. Bennet raised $2.1 million in the third quarter and he has pledged to continue running until at least the New Hampshire primary.

One of the most pressing issues at the event was whether Bennet supports “Medicare for All.” According to Bennet, one of the main issues of our healthcare system is its cost, which he said is “twice as expensive as any other industrialized country.” 

Bennet said that his “Medicare X” plan, which offers a public insurance option for those without private insurance, will give 100 percent of Americans health care much faster than independent Vermont senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for All” plan. He added that Americans will never give up the choice to have private or public healthcare when making decisions about the health of their family members. 

“My bill, Medicare X, would give everyone in America the choice of whether they want to stay on their private insurance if they have it or buy a public option,” Bennet said. “People are not going to give up the choice to be able to decide for their families whether they want to have nonprofit or private or a public benefit, and they are not going to do it if they know that they’re going to have to pay between $31 and $33 trillion in taxes.”

Bennet emphasized the desire to get Trump out of office, noting that Democrats need to find a way to win over those who voted for Trump. Bennet believes that the people who voted for Trump did so because they were in desperate need of a change.

“This isn’t just about unifying Democrats, but we also have to win back some of the nine million people who voted twice for Barack Obama and once for Donald Trump,” Bennet said. “People did this because they were so desperate for change because they are so worried about what this economy is doing. We have had 40 to 50 years of no economic mobility for nine out of 10 Americans.”

When asked about the education inequality gap in America, Bennet advocated for an education plan where the federal government would help fund local communities to help address the inequities in public school funding. A former superintendent of the Denver public school system, Bennet stressed the importance of education reform and the power that higher education can have on individuals. He also stated that he improved the achievement gap in Denver and raised the high school graduation rate there. 

“It’s time to stop treating our education system as if it’s a creature of the 19th or 18th century and think about what it should look like in the 21st century,” Bennet stated. “Our education system is reinforcing inequality instead of liberating it.”

Bennet emphasized the need to increase teachers’ wages, saying that teachers need to be paid “like the professionals that they are.”

During the event, Bennet argued that American democracy is no longer functional. Bennet told the young people in the room that “they deserve to know that there were times in our democracy when it actually worked.” 

Bennet directly criticized President Trump, saying he “represents a terrible, living breathing manifestation of our worst impulses.” He emphasized that the only way to beat Trump is for every single eligible voter on Dartmouth’s campus and in New Hampshire to go to the polls. 

 James Hood ’23, who attend the event, said that Bennet appears similar to former Vice President and presidential candidate Joe Biden.

“I see him as a moderate, comparative to Biden, and I think they have similar principles. Bennet is a good alternative,” Hood stated.

Joshua Freitag ’23 praised Bennet, saying he “answered questions well and really got to the meat of important topics.”