EVENT ENDED

Democratic Debate live updates: MSNBC/Washington Post host

With impeachment at center stage, Democrats debated their visions to replace Trump.

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
SUBSCRIBE

NBC News' live blog tracked the fifth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential election cycle, co-hosted by MSNBC and The Washington Post.

With the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump taking center stage,the 2020 candidates clashed over their visions to replace him. South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg escaped unscathed after it was expected he'd draw heavy fire as the newly minted front-runner, while former Vice President Joe Biden stumbled with gaffes on women, marijuana and race.

Catch up quickly via our analysis and fact checks, and get a look at who came out swinging via our attack tracker. Or, see how the night unfolded below.

Live Blog

Steyer, Warren and Booker tee off on housing

Steyer hasn’t been much of a factor tonight but he offers a strong and differentiated answer on the U.S. housing crisis. 

He says there needs to be changes in policy and an influx in resources “to build literally millions of new units.” But Steyer adds another element — sustainability — noting that where people live has an impact on the climate.

Warren also gets in an answer, putting the issue squarely on the need for more housing. She touts her plan for 3.2 million new housing units and notes that housing is a sustainability issue. 

“The federal government has subsidized housing for decades for white people,” Warren said, while declining to do so for black Americans. “That’s called redlining”

For his part, Booker called out gentrification, which he said involves “low-income families moving farther and farther out, sometimes compounding racial segregation” and proposed a tax credit that would subsidize renters in the same way the federal government subsidizes homeowners.

Castro's absence apparent during housing debate

Amidst a nationwide homelessness crisis, one candidate missing from the stage tonight made his absence known on Twitter: former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro, who subtweeted the proceedings:

On the 2020 campaign trail and during his White House tenure, Castro has been a forceful voice speaking out against homelessness and various forms of housing inequality.

Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Warren: The quotes of the night

Fact check: Warren's 2 cent wealth tax

“I have proposed a 2-cent wealth tax,” Warren said on Wednesday night. “Your first 50 billion is free and clear — but your 50 billionth and first dollar, you gotta pitch in 2 cents, and when you hit a billion dollars, you gotta pitch in a few pennies more.”

First, Warren misspoke here in the first part of her wealth tax plan. She meant to say "the first $50 million," not $50 billion. We know because it's how Warren’s been pitching her wealth tax for weeks — your first 50 million dollars are "free and clear," but once you hit 50 million and one dollar, a wealth tax of 2 cents kicks in.

It sounds simple, right?

Well, it’s not really. Yes, the tax is 2 cents on the dollar of assets over $50 million and 6 cents of every dollar over $1 billion. (She recently hiked that top bracket from 3 cents on every dollar above a billion to 6 cents, to pay for her health care plan.) 

But, this tax is applied annually, so it would keep wealth from growing in many cases and act like an income tax in many ways. Wealthy investors with assets seeing a 6 percent return annually, for instance, would essentially see a 100 percent tax on those assets.

It may sound like pennies, but the dollars add up big time: Two economists who advised Warren estimated recently that if her wealth tax had been in effect since 1982, Bill Gates’ wealth would be a fraction of what it is now.

Debate much more focused on Trump’s conduct

There's one notable shift in focus in tonight’s Democratic debate when compared to its predecessors. So far tonight, Trump’s conduct is front and center as the impeachment probe proceeds.

Candidates fielded early questions on the impeachment probe, Americans chanting “lock him up,” and whether, if elected president, they would prosecute Trump after he leaves office. A sharp contrast from earlier debates when the first hour consisted of mostly debating the candidates’ stances on health care policy.

Big praise for child care questions

Good insurance, no insurance or just insured?

In 2013, before the major elements of the Affordable Care Act went into effect, more than 44 million Americans lived without health insurance, according to an analysis of census data conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

After Obamacare began, the number of uninsured Americans sank to a historic low of 26.7 million people, about 10 percent of the nation’s population. Then, after a series of changes were made to the Affordable Care Act,  the number of uninsured Americans rose. In 2017, 27.4 million people were uninsured, marking the first time since Obamacare began that the ranks of the uninsured expanded.

While most Americans are insured, the share who also fall into the ranks of the underinsured remains significant. The Commonwealth Fund, a foundation which among other activities researches health care topics, defines the term underinsured to include anyone whose health insurance deductibles and other out of pocket costs eat up 5 to 10 percent of their total income. Such a situation can make medical bills and prescription drug costs difficult to cover, force people to contemplate skipping much needed doctor visits, avoid emergency room care and to make other choices which can compromise their health. 

The share of Americans with insurance provided by an employer who are also underinsured grew from 17 percent in 2010 to 28 percent in 2018, according to the Commonwealth Fund. The figures are even larger for those who purchase individual health insurance plans. Among individual health insurance policy buyers, 37 percent were underinsured in 2010 and 42 percent were in the same situation last year.

Watch the moment Harris goes after Gabbard's record

Bernie won't disavow 'lock him up' chants

Sanders was asked about the “lock him up” chants recently hurled at Trump, such as at a World Series game in Washington last month.

Sanders did not disavow the chants, a mirror of Trump supporters cheering “lock her up” about Hillary Clinton in 2016. Sanders said simply that he thinks “the people of this country are catching on to the degree this president thinks he is above the law.”

Biden says he would not prosecute Trump after he leaves office

Biden said that he would not prosecute Trump after he leaves office because it’s not his job to decide who would be prosecuted or exonerated. He said it’s the attorney general’s decision, and if the independent conclusion was to pursue prosecution, then “so be it.”

He argued that the attorney general is not the president’s attorney.