A question that comes up often during the daily White House press briefings, and which is usually asked by Fox News reporter Peter Doocy, revolves around the rising crime epidemic sweeping Democrat-run cities across America, and whether or not the Biden White House agrees with the soft-on-crime approaches taken by Democrat District Attorneys as well as efforts in various cities and by certain Democrat lawmakers in Congress to defund the police.
Usually, the stock answer from press secretary Jen Psaki is to avoid (dodge) specifically weighing in on what individual cities are doing while issuing a blanket statement in which she (falsely) claims President Biden has always been a staunch supporter of funding the police. Psaki has also been quick to attribute rising crime issues primarily to gun violence without acknowledging the reality that efforts to defund the police in major cities in this country have had a detrimental, deadly impact on some of those same cities.
But during today’s press briefing, Psaki switched up and finally made a significant concession on the issue of defunding the police and how it relates to rising crime rates. During a back and forth exchange with Doocy, Psaki did as she normally does by attributing the bulk of the rising crime rate to gun violence, but second on her list was what she called “underfunding of some police departments and their need for additional resources.”
Psaki: “If we look at the facts…we have seen a surge of rime over the last 2 years. Would you agree w/that?”
Doocy: “So, what are you attributing the rise in crime to then?”
Psaki: “We should be responsible how we are reporting…the reason…Gun violence is a huge reason.” pic.twitter.com/sdEFCuYItD
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) January 24, 2022
Psaki’s concession came just a few days after President Biden called for “increasing funding” for the police:
— Mediaite (@Mediaite) January 21, 2022
Without a doubt, this is a deliberate election-year pivot on behalf of the Biden administration to distance themselves from radicals in their party who have for years been railing against the police and who have demanded they be defunded.
In 2020, House Democrats attributed the drubbing they received in part to the party’s embrace of the “Defund” movement. Laughably, during the summer of 2021, Democrats attempted to shift the blame on defunding the police to Republicans, suggesting because the GOP rejected Biden’s bloated spending bills that they were, in effect, supporters of defunding the police.
Republicans were quick to welcome the Democrats’ revival of the topic at the time because it gave them the opportunity to bring receipts to the table to prove once and for all that it is Democrats who have supported yanking much-needed funding from police departments.
I suspect this pivot is being made now to try and head Republicans off at the pass in advance of the 2022 midterms, and also because some Democrat mayors have even abandoned ship on this issue (some temporarily) because they see what it’s done to their cities.
But Republicans shouldn’t and likely will not let the Biden administration off the hook on this one, because they know this issue is a losing one for Democrats, with a cross-section of voters who agree that police departments should not be defunded.
In short, the Biden administration is welcome to revive the debate over defunding the police, but it’s unlikely to prove helpful to them come election time, where the writing is already on the wall.