Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has been trying to change the narrative that the Democrats don't support defunding the police. His latest tactic: saying that it's President Trump who wants to defund the police, not Biden.
Biden has been plagued with criticism over the past few weeks for saying during a July interview that he "absolutely" believes funds should be redirected from the police into other community projects. He has since vehemently denied ever saying that and now suggests that his plan includes more funding for local law enforcement.
?? ????— Trump War Room - Text TRUMP to 88022 (@TrumpWarRoom) July 8, 2020
Joe Biden says police have "BECOME THE ENEMY" and calls for CUTTING police funding: "Yes, absolutely!" pic.twitter.com/hV9KyuqhiX
Even without the clear cut video evidence that Biden enthusiastically supported the reallocation of police funds while chatting with an ultra-woke activist from NowThis, Biden is in trouble with pro-law enforcement voices simply by association. Even though he may not be the most vocal advocate for anti-police policy measures, Biden's party and his surrogates most certainly are.
Attempting to distance himself from this narrative and repackage his Democrat identity as a champion of law and order, Biden's most recent flaming arrow toward Trump is to insist that the president is the one who is defunding the police.
On Monday, Biden said that Trump is working actively to siphon $400 million away from local law enforcement.
"I not only don't want to defund the police, I'm the one calling for $300 million more for local police, for community policing," Biden said. "I also think we should add social workers and psychologists to help police on 911 calls. The only person calling to defund the police is Donald Trump. Look at his budget. He calls for cutting police funding for local — state and local help by $400 million. Once again, he's pathological."
But in reality, Biden's assertion that Trump is attempting to withdraw $400 million from police funding is a total fantasy that seems to be based on the fiscal year 2021 budget proposal. In that proposal, some grants and federal aid to law enforcement support have been repurposed or repacked to be more efficient.
The Cato Institue explains how the federal budget for local law enforcement is actually applied:
Presidential candidate Joe Biden said that he does not favor defunding police but instead “conditioning federal aid to police based on whether or not they meet certain basic standards of decency and honorableness.” Biden is proposing to increase federal aid for state-local police forces.
The federal government currently spends relatively little on funding state and local police. Total federal aid to the states for the “administration of justice” in 2019 was $5.2 billion, a portion of which goes to police forces for programs such as COPS. Federal aid is a small share of total state-local police funding, but it is a tail that wags the dog in terms of federal control.
As far as the proposed changes for the new fiscal year, Biden and his team could have come up with the $400 million number in several different ways, but none of them point to the president attempting to undermine support for law enforcement. In fact, the president has consistently offered federal aid and assistance to local communities besieged by violence and anarchy.
It is the Democrat leaders, who Biden supports and who support him in return, who are advocating to suffocate the local police departments by defunding them. COPS aid being redistributed in a measure that removes federal control from local policing is in no way "defunding" the local police the way multiple American cities have voted to do this summer.
In fact, as pointed out by Cato, it was the 1994 crime bill famously championed by Biden that so heavily inflated the federal law enforcement budget.
Aid to the states for state-local police should be zeroed out for the same reasons it should be ended for other state-local activities, as discussed in this study. One problem is that federal politicians make big mistakes and then impose those big mistakes on the entire country. It is much safer if we let states and cities try to improve their policies with various approaches and then learn from each other’s successes and failures.
Remember that the 1994 crime bill was imposed on the country by a Democratic president and a Democratic Congress but is now viewed as a big mistake by the Democrats. Democrat Joe Biden helped write the 1994 crime bill and voted in favor, but he now apologizes for it. Let’s not make another big federal mistake.
So, no, the president is not trying to defund the police but is instead proposing that control of the local police remains in the hands of the states and cities that employ them. Biden, on the other hand, is working hand in glove with multiple politicians and advocates who are calling for and voting to defund their local police with tremendous success. If he's against these measures, he's never said so.