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Danielle Kurtzleben

Danielle Kurtzleben is a political reporter assigned to NPR's Washington Desk. She appears on NPR shows, writes for the web, and is a regular on the NPR Politics Podcast. She is covering the 2020 presidential election, with particular focuses on on economic policy and gender politics.

Before joining NPR in 2015, Kurtzleben spent a year as a correspondent for Vox.com. As part of the site's original reporting team, she covered economics and business news.

Prior to Vox.com, Kurtzleben was with U.S. News & World Report for nearly four years, where she covered the economy, campaign finance and demographic issues. As associate editor, she launched Data Mine, a data visualization blog on usnews.com.

A native of Titonka, Iowa, Kurtzleben has a bachelor's degree in English from Carleton College. She also holds a master's degree in global communication from George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs.

The divide among Democrats over "Medicare for All" has dominated the policy conversation in the 2020 Democratic primary. But another rift has opened among Democrats, this one about college affordability. The question: Who should get to go to college for free?

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg jabbed at his more liberal opponents in a new ad airing in Iowa. It doesn't name other candidates, but it's clear he's taking aim at Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who have pitched plans making free public college available to all.

A few weeks ago, Elizabeth Warren made huge news with her plan to finance "Medicare for All." But as part of it, the Massachusetts senator made a big change to one of her other major policy goals: she boosted the size of the wealth tax she wants to impose on the very rich: The top rate went from 3% to 6%, giving her trillions more dollars in theoretical revenue to fund the sweeping program.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren says paying for "Medicare for All" would require $20.5 trillion in new federal spending over a decade. That spending includes higher taxes on the wealthy but no new taxes on the middle class.

The Democratic presidential candidate released her plan to pay for Medicare for All on Friday after being dogged for months by questions of how she would finance such a sweeping overhaul of the health care system. That pressure has been intensified by the fact that Warren has made detailed proposals a central part of her brand as a candidate.

Updated at 11:10 a.m. ET

Sen. Elizabeth Warren says she can fund "Medicare for All" without raising taxes on the middle class. Instead, among other things, she would boost the wealth tax on the ultra-rich that she has promoted on the campaign trail.

Bernie Sanders doesn't plan on releasing a detailed plan of how to finance his single-payer Medicare for All plan, he told CNBC's John Harwood on Tuesday.

"You're asking me to come up with an exact detailed plan of how every American — how much you're going to pay more in taxes, how much I'm going to pay," he said. "I don't think I have to do that right now."

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Are robots stealing workers' jobs? At last week's Democratic presidential debate, CNN moderator Erin Burnett dove into the thorny issue.

"According to a recent study, about a quarter of American jobs could be lost to automation in just the next 10 years," she said, asking candidates how they would respond to this problem.

After a long, steady rise in the polls, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is now vying for front-runner status with former Vice President Joe Biden. On Tuesday night, more moderate candidates took aim at her progressive policy positions as unrealistic and expensive.

"Medicare for All" — the single-payer health care plan supported by both Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders — was the main topic in this moderate-progressive fight.

Trade is a signature policy area for President Trump, and one where he has been able to take dramatic action. Trump's protectionist policies appealed to voters in the industrial Midwest, the region that was critical to his 2016 victory. Now, Democratic presidential candidates are campaigning in the shadow of Trump's tariffs, subsequent trade wars, and pursuit of a replacement for NAFTA.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

DANIELLE KURTZLEBEN, BYLINE: Even before Biden arrived in New Hampshire, voters here may have already heard him attacking Trump. Here is Biden in a new ad released last week intended to run in early states.

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Aside from having proposals for programs they would like to implement, Democratic presidential candidates have proposals for how they would like government to function.

The primary campaign has brought forth proposals to change all three branches of government, potentially impacting how laws are passed, the size and function of the Supreme Court, and how presidents are elected.

Below, we summarize how the 2020 Democratic contenders want to change U.S. governance in these three areas.

Updated at 12:15 p.m. ET

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is canceling presidential campaign events "until further" notice following a heart procedure, campaign senior adviser Jeff Weaver said Wednesday morning.

Weaver said in a brief written statement that Sanders "experienced some chest discomfort" during a Tuesday evening campaign event.

Once again, health care took up a large chunk of a Democratic primary debate. Once again, there were fights over costs, coverage and whether the party is growing too extreme.

But this time, all of the front-runners were onstage together, providing the first opportunity for all of them to take direct aim at each other and their vastly differing health care plans. It made for some heated exchanges, putting "Medicare for All" supporters on defense. But it also showed clearly that some candidates are cautious not to criticize others' proposals too harshly.

Updated at 1:13 a.m. ET

Wednesday night, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand blasted Joe Biden for a 1980s position on the child care tax credit and a comment he wrote about the "deterioration of the family."

Here's what Gillibrand said:

At the Democratic debate tonight, one particular aspect of Bernie Sanders' "Medicare for All" plan got special scrutiny.

After a back-and-forth over how to pay for the plan, CNN moderator Jake Tapper pointedly asked Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has sponsored Sanders' plan: "Would you raise taxes on the middle class to pay for Medicare for All — offset, obviously, by the elimination of insurance premiums — yes or no?"

"Costs will go up for billionaires and go up for corporations," Warren said. "For middle-class families, costs — total costs — will go down."

Updated at 1 p.m. ET

California Sen. Kamala Harris has released a health care plan just in time for the second Democratic debate, offering a role for private insurance in a "Medicare for All" system and outlining new taxes to pay for it.

The plan comes after months of questions about whether she supports scrapping private insurance — and as former Vice President Joe Biden appears to be gearing up to attack her at the upcoming debate on her support for Medicare for All.

Elizabeth Warren made sure to specially thank South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn when they introduced their student debt forgiveness plan this week.

The reason: He might actually get a vote on it.

"I am deeply grateful to the congressman for taking this first piece on student debt cancellation so that we have a chance to work it through the House. Right now, we're not likely to get a vote in the Senate," she said, to chuckles in the audience.

At the Democratic presidential debate this week, voters got a preview of how Democrats will handle what for now is an uphill battle against President Trump.

On Wednesday and Thursday, 20 candidates will take the Democratic debate stage to talk about a wide range of policy topics. And 20 candidates times dozens of policies equals a lot to keep track of.

It's true that, these being Democratic candidates, there's a lot they all agree on — taking action on climate change, for example, or improving the health care system. But this debate is the first time we'll see them next to each other, coming into direct conflict over what, exactly, they disagree on.

The lineups are set for the first Democratic presidential primary debates.

Among the debate matchups: Former Vice President Joe Biden, currently leading in primary polls nationally, will face off against Vermont senator and 2016 candidate Bernie Sanders, as well as California Sen. Kamala Harris and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

Meanwhile, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren will face New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

The Democratic National Committee announced Thursday the list of presidential candidates who will take the stage at the first primary debates, on June 26 and 27.

To accommodate the massive field of candidates, the debates will be spread over two nights, with 10 candidates taking the stage for each two-hour debate.

Here are the candidates who the DNC said have made the cut, in alphabetical order:

  • Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden*
  • New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker*

In 2005, bankruptcy was on the rise and had been for years.

Lawmakers were pondering why, exactly, that was happening — and what, if anything, they should do about it — when two future presidential rivals squared off over a bankruptcy overhaul bill that would restrict who could write off their personal debts.

Updated 2:07 p.m.

Bernie Sanders didn't have his usual adoring crowds at his Wednesday campaign stop. That's because he spoke to Walmart shareholders at their annual meeting.

At a time when House Democrats are battling the president for his tax returns, new disclosures provide some basic information about his finances. For instance: His income was at least in the hundreds of millions last year.

Alice Rivlin, former President Bill Clinton's budget director who overcame sexism to become the first woman to serve in that role, has died of cancer, the Brookings Institution confirmed Tuesday. She was 88.

Her name may not be widely known outside of Washington, but she had a hand in five decades of the nation's economic policy. At the peak of her power, she was one of the most influential and respected nonelected officials in the country.

Workers on the Bernie Sanders 2020 presidential campaign have ratified a union contract with management, which says it is the first campaign union contract at the presidential level.

The campaign and the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400 — with whom the workers are affiliated — both announced the agreement on Wednesday.

Jill Biden is accomplished in her own right — she holds two master's degrees and a doctoral degree. But then, her husband is the former vice president and a top contender for the Democratic presidential nomination for 2020.

And so while she has maintained her own career, she has also taken her husband's aspirations in stride.

Updated at 3:41 p.m. ET

Talk to enough Democratic voters this campaign season, and you hear a certain idea over and over.

"I'd love to vote for a woman. I'm not sure that any of the women candidates will make it to the top in the way that I think Biden and Beto will," said Patti Rutka, who turned out to a March event in New Hampshire for former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke.

Pete Buttigieg, a Democratic presidential candidate and the mayor of a small, majority-white city, came to New York this week to appeal to black voters.

"I believe an agenda for black Americans needs to include five things that all of us care about: homeownership, entrepreneurship, education, health and justice," the mayor of South Bend, Ind., told the audience at the National Action Network's conference.

Beto O'Rourke got lots of attention from his campaign kickoff in Keokuk, Iowa. And thanks to some of his comments, not all of that attention was good.

At the start of his speech, O'Rourke referenced a call from his wife, Amy, "who's back in El Paso, Texas, where she is raising, sometimes with my help, Ulysses, who's 12 years old, Molly, who's 10, and their little brother, Henry, who is 8 years old."

To some Democratic voters, that seemed like a flip acknowledgment that he was handing off parenting duties to his wife while he pursued his political dreams.

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