Yesterday, Allahpundit looked at the moment when Joe Biden answered the question many of us were itching to hear. Would he go along with the most radical left-leaning portion of his base and suggest that we need to defund the police? To the great disappointment of the Trump campaign, Uncle Joe said that no, he wouldn’t support that. It’s a pity because, as I’ve previously noted, that one quote would have made the only campaign advertisement that Trump would need to run for the rest of the year. As AP noted, that comes with some risk to the enthusiasm of the progressive base in general and Black voters in particular. But probably not that much. Polling has shown that while there’s been a significant swing in how Americans feel about the question of whether or not the police treat African-Americans differently than whites, support for defunding our police forces remains in the low teens.
But let’s get back to Biden’s denial of his support for defunding. While he said no initially, he followed that up with a rather significant caveat. This was picked up at the Los Angeles Times yesterday. (Emphasis added)
Biden supporters think it will be hard for Trump to portray him as a fringe radical.
In an interview Monday on CBS, Biden said, “No, I don’t support defunding the police. I support conditioning federal aid to police based on whether or not they meet certain standards of decency and honorableness and, in fact, are able to demonstrate they can protect the community and everybody in the community.
“What’s happening here is one of those great inflection points in American history, for real, in terms of civil liberties, civil rights and just treating people with dignity,” he said.
Notice how Biden cleverly says he supports “conditioning federal aid to police based on whether or not they meet certain standards of decency.”
All police departments around the country rely on government funding from a combination of sources to keep the lights on. They receive, local, municipal, state and federal funding through a variety of channels. (I’ve had to sit through local budget meetings covering the police budget and I can tell you that it’s frequently a hot mess.) A lot of the possible federal funding comes in the form of grants that the municipalities can apply for if they qualify.
What Biden clearly seems to be stating here is that, under his administration, restrictions could be placed on those grants. If the local police department doesn’t toe the line with federal mandates about how they do their jobs “decently and honorably” they would become ineligible for the grant funds. In other words, police departments not toeing the federal line on police reform would have their funding cut. What Biden just proposed was a way to not defund all of the police, but just the ones that don’t structure their operational policies in accordance with federal wishes.
Does any of this sound familiar to you? If so, you might be thinking of Donald Trump’s attempts to condition federal law enforcement grant money to cities based on whether or not they agreed to assist federal immigration enforcement efforts. And weren’t we told that this was a bad thing repeatedly by the media and the Democrats?
None of this makes for a great bumper sticker or 30-second campaign ad. But the substance underlying the question is a legitimate one. Joe Biden is obviously talking about at least partially defunding police departments and using a tool straight out of Donald Trump’s playbook to do it. Will anyone be bringing this point to the attention of the broader public? I won’t hold my breath, but Team Trump should be at work on this already for the debates.