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.
Harris: Trump got punk'd on North Korea
First climate question — everyone agrees it’s a priority
Gabbard got the first climate change question of the night and said that it’s an issue that transcends political party and everyone should come together to break the hyperpartisanship to get climate policies passed
Steyer called out Biden and Warren — two of the front-runners — saying it is a No. 1 priority for him unlike those two. He said that, on Day One of his presidency, he would declare a state of emergency and make climate change part of his foreign policy.
Biden shot back saying that he has been on the front line of climate change and attacked Steyer for operating coal mines while he was working on climate policy. Steyer responded by saying everyone on the stage lived in an economy based on fossil fuels and he came to a conclusion to avoid them a decade ago.
Sanders says that he would go directly after the fossil fuel industry and said they are criminally liable because they had “evidence” that their products hurt the environment.
Steyer hasn't talked much, but he's firing off attacks
An hour and change into the Democratic debate, Tom Steyer has made 6 fiery attacks. He's only spoken for 5 minutes.
His latest: "I’m the only person on this stage who will say that climate is the No. 1 priority for me. Vice President Biden won’t say it. Senator Warren won’t say it."
No one laying a hand on Mayor Pete
Conventional wisdom heading into Wednesday’s debate was that the candidates, who had started to telegraph hits on Buttigieg along the campaign trail, would go after the surging candidate.
But as polls show Buttigieg rising to first in Iowa and New Hampshire, no one’s taken a direct shot at him in the debate’s first hour. Even Klobuchar, asked about her previous criticism of Buttigieg, demurred.
But of note, there’s been little fighting on stage through the debate so far.
Buttigieg pressed on farm subsidies
Buttigieg was just asked about farm subsidies — a closely watched issue in largely rural, first-to-caucus Iowa, where polls show him absolutely surging.
It’s no surprise, then, that Buttigieg says that he would continue farm subsidies, although he notes that such payouts are not making farmers “whole.”
Attacks at the halfway mark
There were 33 attacks in the first 60 minutes of tonight's debate, and 16 of those were aimed at President Donald Trump.
Here's how the NBC News debate attack tracker looks at the halfway mark of tonight's debate.
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.