Ahead of Debate, NBC Promotes Democratic Solutions to Opioids, Tax Woes

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Leading up to their second chance to host a 2020 Democratic debate, NBC News had been running a biased series where they only sought out “What Matters” to Democratic voters. For last Thursday’s installment, the network promoted former HUD Secretary Julian Castro’s plan to lower taxes for the middle class. Then, on the eve of the debate, they seemed to suggest only Democrats cared about the opioid crisis while boosting Senator Bernie Sander’s Medicare for all scheme.

Leading into the segment featuring Castro, NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt noted that Democratic voters were worried about “the bite taxes take out of their paychecks.” And during the report, correspondent Harry Smith showed Castro a video of one Democratic voter lamenting: “I'm being penalized because I'm single, I have no children, and I own no property. What they are taking from me for taxes is absurd.”

“Does that have a ring of truth to you,” Smith wondered. He then teed up the former secretary to target the GOP tax cuts that actually lowered the tax burden of the middle class and increased revenues:

SMITH: How much money do you want to raise by raising taxes for the rich?

CASTRO: Well, you know, to begin with. If we reveal the Trump tax cuts, that's well over $2 trillion over the next decade. I've proposed also a wealth inequality tax that would apply to people that have assets in excess of $40 million.

SMITH: Castro would not tax owned wealth in total, rather he proposes a tax for the richest Americans on things like stocks and bonds, as they increase in value.”

 

 

The most critical he got about Castro’s plan was this weak strawman: “But if I work that hard to make that money, I think a lot of people feel like I ought to be able to keep that money.” “Balance, that's what Julian Castro says he'd bring to the U.S. tax code,” Smith concluded.

When leading into the Tuesday installment, the evening prior to the debate, Holt seemed to suggest that the opioid crisis was solely a concern of Democratic voters. “We're on the eve of the next Democratic 2020 debate on MSNBC, and tonight a top tier candidate is speaking out to NBC News about an issue Democratic voters told us is very important to them, the opioid crisis,” he proclaimed.

In addition to the obvious punishment for opioid manufacturers, Smith promoted how Sanders’ financially gluttonous Medicare for all scheme would handle the crisis:

Sanders sees the opioid epidemic as just one of the ailments plaguing the U.S. healthcare system. Under Sanders' Medicare for all program, addiction treatment would be available to any who need it, regardless of income. And, he says, the same program would force U.S. drugmakers to lower prices. No American will pay more than $200 a month for their medications.

Treatment, Medicare for all and a new hard line with the pharmaceutical industry some of what matters to Bernie Sanders,” he touted in conclusion.

Just as with the recent tax cuts, President Trump has made tackling the opioid crisis a major part of his presidency. NBC News even covered the “sweeping opioid bill” he signed into law just over a year ago.

The transcripts are below, click "expand" to read:

NBC Nightly News
November 14, 2019
7:12:12 p.m. Eastern

LESTER HOLT: [Deval] Patrick is joining an already large field of candidates. Among them is Julian Castro, who is speaking out tonight about something Democratic voters told us is a big concern. The bite taxes take out of their paychecks. Castro talks to our Harry Smith about what matters.

[Cuts to video]

HARRY SMITH: We're at the home of former Housing Secretary Julian Castro showing him what one Democratic voter had to say about taxes.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I'm being penalized because I'm single, I have no children, and I own no property. What they are taking from me for taxes is absurd.

SMITH: Does that have a ring of truth to you?

FORMER HUD SECRETARY JULIAN CASTRO (D): I think that for the last 40 years that we've expected more and more from the middle class and from the working poor and less and less from very wealthy corporations and people at the very top.

SMITH: How much money do you want to raise by raising taxes for the rich?

CASTRO: Well, you know, to begin with. If we reveal the Trump tax cuts, that's well over $2 trillion over the next decade. I've proposed also a wealth inequality tax that would apply to people that have assets in excess of $40 million.

SMITH: Castro would not tax owned wealth in total, rather he proposes a tax for the richest Americans on things like stocks and bonds, as they increase in value.

But if I work that hard to make that money, I think a lot of people feel like I ought to be able to keep that money.

CASTRO: Well, you are going to keep some of it. I celebrate people's success. At the same time, I think we need a fair tax system that actually allows for us to make sure that other people can also reach their dreams.

SMITH: Balance, that's what Julian Castro says he'd bring to the U.S. tax code. Harry Smith, NBC News, San Antonio.

 

NBC Nightly News
November 19, 2019
7:14:58 p.m. Eastern

LESTER HOLT: We're on the eve of the next Democratic 2020 debate on MSNBC, and tonight a top tier candidate is speaking out to NBC News about an issue Democratic voters told us is very important to them, the opioid crisis. Senator Bernie Sanders tells Harry Smith how he would confront the epidemic in "What Matters."

[Cuts to video]

HARRY SMITH: We spoke with senator Bernie Sanders at a restaurant beside the Winooski River in Vermont. From our group of Democratic voters, we heard a tragically common American story about opioids.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Well, I just recently lost my son. I fought hard. This system's not created to treat that. They pushed him to the side. He was clean for a year. He went into remission, and he slipped up. I lost him.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT): It's heartbreaking. I have heard that story over and over again. This is unacceptable, and that industry must be held accountable not only in my view in terms of paying many billions of dollars in fines, but held criminally accountable as well.

SMITH: Sanders sees the opioid epidemic as just one of the ailments plaguing the U.S. healthcare system. Under Sanders' Medicare for all program, addiction treatment would be available to any who need it, regardless of income. And, he says, the same program would force U.S. drugmakers to lower prices. No American will pay more than $200 a month for their medications.

SMITH: The drug companies are going to say, “well, we're not going have enough money for research and development.”

SANDERS: Oh really? Well, they have a lot of money to put ads on NBC and CBS and ABC. They have enough money to give their CEOs outrageous levels of compensation. Of course, that's what they say. They lie.

SMITH: Treatment, Medicare for all and a new hard line with the pharmaceutical industry some of what matters to Bernie Sanders. Harry Smith, NBC News, Winooski, Vermont.

NB Daily Campaigns & Elections 2020 Presidential NBC's 'Big Idea'/'What Matters' Economy Taxes Health Care Labeling Political Groups Liberals & Democrats Broadcast Television NBC NBC Nightly News Video Lester Holt Harry Smith Julian Castro Bernie Sanders

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