The Most Heated Democratic Debate Yet

Date: April 19, 2016

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders hurled insults—even though their policies aren’t all that far apart.

Tensions ran high at the last Democratic debate.

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders went head-to-head in their ninth debate on April 14, discussing issues such as healthcare, regulations, taxes, mandatory paid leave, minimum wage, and yes, small business.

During the Brooklyn, New York debate, Sanders attacked Clinton on the paid speeches she gave on Wall Street, saying he’d question her judgment as president. Clinton responded by citing Sanders’ lack of experience.

RELATED: How a Democratic President Would Affect Small Business

“Both candidates apparently came into the room Thursday night ready to throw down, and at certain points, the interrupting and loud talking over each other recalled a few of the earlier GOP debates more than the relatively civil exchanges Clinton and Sanders have had until recently,” wrote Julian Zelizer on CNN.

Yes, the candidates “are really fed up with each other. But that has far more to do with personality than ideology,” wrote Howard Kurtz on

When it comes down to it, he said, the Democratic hopefuls hold similar views.

“The way that Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders were savaging each other in Brooklyn, you’d think they were miles apart politically,” Kurtz wrote. “But that’s kind of an illusion. They’re really not all that different on the issues.”

Here’s what Clinton and Sanders had to say about the top small business issues in their feisty debate:



  • Both candidates agreed on their policy to expand Obamacare. “We need to join the rest of the industrialized world and guarantee healthcare to all people,” Sanders said.
  • Clinton pointed to her previous attempts to provide universal healthcare, saying that it was something that she has worked on for 25 years. “Before there was something called Obamacare, there was something called Hillarycare,” she said. “And we’re now at 90 percent of coverage; I’m going to get us to 100 percent.”


  • When challenged with a study that found Sanders’ promises for free healthcare and college for all would be fiscally irresponsible, even after tax increases, he replied, “Well, I disagree with that study. There are many other economists who come up with very, very different numbers.”
  • Clinton quoted a Washington Post article that called Sanders’ tax plan “a train wreck for the poor.” However, she also described her goals to “make the wealthy pay into Social Security to extend the Social Security Trust Fund” and to tax “passive income by wealthy people.” 

Small business

  • After Sanders recently slammed Verizon for moving jobs outside of the United States, the CEO called Sanders’ views “contemptible,” noting that in Sanders’ home state of Vermont, the company has invested more than $16 million and pays millions of dollars every year to local businesses.
  • Clinton’s proposal to create more jobs focused on advanced manufacturing, mentioning a $10 billion plan she laid out in Syracuse, New York. “I have seen the results of what can happen when we have the government cooperating with business. And that’s exactly what I will do,” she said.

Minimum wage

  • Clinton voiced her support for “the fight for 15,” and stated that she will work as hard as she can to increase minimum wage.
  • On the other hand, Sanders, who also supports a large increase in minimum wage, reminded Clinton that at the beginning of the campaign, she had intended to raise it only to $12. “To suddenly announce now that you’re for $15, I don’t think is quite accurate,” he remarked.

Paid leave

  • Sanders said paid medical and family leave would be a possibility if this country does “not let the Trumps of the world divide us up.” Clinton has previously also voiced her support for mandatory paid leave.

“While it looks virtually impossible for Sanders to win the nomination, he has basically won the argument, with Clinton sliding left on a whole host of issues, including the Pacific trade deal she once backed,” Kurtz wrote.

RELATED: Time for a Revolution? Sanders and Clinton Clash at Democratic Debate

*Note: This news coverage does not equate to an endorsement of any candidate by NFIB. 

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