WaPo fact checks Biden on rape, murder claims for jobs bill
posted at 10:45 am on October 21, 2011 by Ed Morrissey
The question of whether Joe Biden has his facts straight is almost always an easy content generator for writers, and in most cases an entertaining mission. However, no one thinks that Biden’s claim that opponents to Barack Obama’s jobs bill want more rapes and murders is the least bit charming or entertaining; despicable would be a better term. Glenn Kessler at the Washington Post has another word for it … absurd. Not only did Biden and his office get their facts wrong — rapes have not “tripled” in Flint, but actually decreased in the period Biden cited — no one has ever made a causal link between police staffing and crime rates:
This brings us to the central point of Biden’s argument–that fewer police officers means more crime. More police officers might certainly mean more arrests and convictions, particularly for less noteworthy crimes, but researchers have strived to make a link between murders and officers on the street.
University of Chicago economist Steven D. Levitt, who examined ten possible factors for why crime fell in the 1990s, made a noteworthy effort in 2004 to assess the importance of additional cops. He included the increase in police as one factor that could explain the decline in crime. But he also said that other key factors included a rising prison population, the receding crack epidemic and even the legalization of abortion (which resulted in fewer unwanted births).
In other words, even if you could make a link, it is likely one of many factors that affects the crime rate, not the single one, as Biden suggests. The FBI itself lists more than a dozen variables in what causes crime to increase in a community.
I actually laughed out loud when I read this scolding from Kessler, who gives Biden the maximum four Pinocchios for his ludicrous argument:
In any case, the vice president should know better than to spout off half-baked facts in service of a dubious argument. Even if one believes there is a link between crime and the number of police—which is debatable and subject to many caveats—there is no excuse to make the dramatic claim that more people will die or be raped without additional funds for police. When making such a breathtaking charge, you had better have your facts straight.
The Veep “should know better than to spout off half-baked facts in service of a dubious argument”? Hey, that’s Joe Biden’s entire life. Remember “Recovery Summer”? Does anyone recall Biden telling CBS News how President Franklin Delano Roosevelt went on television after the 1929 crash to reassure America, even though FDR was two years away from winning his first presidential election and the only people watching TV in 1929 were those experimenting with the technology? The only time I can recall Biden getting anything right was when he gave speeches during his presidential bid in 1987 about the hard life of his family — and the only reason he got it right was because he was talking about Neil Kinnock’s family in speeches Biden plagiarized from the British politician.
Besides, Biden never intended to debate the facts. He just wanted to sling mud in an attempt to demagogue rational opposition to a replay of the same policies that brought us Biden’s “Recovery Summer” in 2010. He should get a couple of McCarthys to go along with his Pinocchios.