Keating Criticizes Trump’s Approach to Opioid Crisis

WASHINGTON – Cape Cod Congressman’s has criticized President Donald Trump’s comments on the opioid crisis in his visit to New Hampshire Monday.

9th District Congressman Bill Keating (D-Bourne) said the President “has it all wrong” with his remarks brandishing the death penalty as a fitting punishment for drug traffickers fueling the opioid epidemic. Trump called for broadening education and awareness about drug addiction while expanding access to proven treatment and recovery efforts, but the backbone of his plan is to toughen punishments for those caught trafficking highly addictive drugs.

“Over a decade and a half ago as Norfolk County District Attorney, I started an Opioid Task Force, and what I learned from my experience is that the President has it all wrong,” Keating said. “Back then, I was tasked with the responsibility of approaching it from a criminal side, but I learned this is much more a public health issue. That is why the Centers for Disease Control advocates for an approach of combining medically assisted and behavioral health treatment as the best course. And Massachusetts has been a leader in treatment and prevention nationwide.”

“While interdiction and law enforcement have a place, the narrow approach that dominated the President’s remarks simply won’t work. President Trump is taking us backwards,” Keating added.

Keating is a member of the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force.

“Toughness is the thing that they most fear,” Trump saidin New Hampshire, a state hit hard by opioids and an early marker for the re-election campaign he has already announced.

“This isn’t about nice anymore,” Trump said. “This is about winning a very, very tough problem and if we don’t get very tough on these dealers it’s not going to happen folks. I want to win this battle.”

The president formalized what he had long mused about: that if a person in the U.S. can get the death penalty or life in prison for shooting one person, a similar punishment should be given to a drug dealer whose product potentially kills thousands.

Trump has long spoken approvingly about countries like Singapore that harshly punish dealers. During a trip to Asia last fall, he did not publicly rebuke Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, who authorized extrajudicial killings of drug dealers.

Content from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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