This was a trial balloon that the White House attempted to slide over the press corps recently to howls and guffaws from the peanut gallery. When a few members of the press corps finally mustered the gumption to ask Jen Psaki about how Joe Biden felt regarding the BLM and Democrats’ urging to defund the police, they received an unexpected answer. With a straight face, Psaki attempted to claim that it was actually the Republicans who were trying to defund law enforcement. When asked if she could name a single GOP member who had said anything of the sort, she of course had no answer. Instead, she cryptically replies that “actions speak louder than words” and brought up Republican opposition to the massive Coronavirus Relief bill earlier this year, noting that a portion of it was designated for state and local government aid. That bit of craziness dropped off of the front pages fairly quickly, but this week the Washington Post’s fact-checker, Glenn Kessler, took the claim apart thoroughly, awarding three Pinocchios to the White House for this nonsense. (Fox News)
“Although Republicans all opposed Biden’s coronavirus relief package, no one voted to cut, or defund, anything. Rather, Democrats proposed $350 billion in emergency funds for state and local governments, and Republicans voted against those extra funds. That’s not a reduction,” the Post’s Glenn Kessler wrote.
President Biden has resisted efforts from the left flank of his party to call for police budget cuts, but the efforts by his White House to shift the label of anti-police to Republicans appeared to demonstrate the damage of even the appearance of that position. Despite the brazenness of the White House’s claims, some liberal media figures fell in line with the talking point, Fox News reported last week.
While Biden announced last month he wanted cities to tap the emergency $350 billion fund to hire additional police officers, there was no text in the American Rescue Plan itself that mandated those monies go toward policing, Kessler noted.
When you’ve lost Glenn Kessler…
This preposterous bucket of malarkey never should have even merited an actual fact check. But perhaps it’s good that Kessler took on the job since a number of liberal media outlets dutifully started parroting the ridiculous talking point after Psaki said it. But still, if you’re going to make a claim about “the Republicans” being in favor of something, shouldn’t you be able to produce at least one member of the caucus that’s on record as having said it?
Ted Cruz described the claim from the White House accurately, saying “That’s like an arsonist showing up at the fire and blaming the fireman.”
In reality, there was money for state and local government relief in the bill. But the massive pile of “free money” was so huge and so vaguely defined that they could do nearly anything with it and write it off as “pandemic relief.” Some local and municipal governments actually did use some of the money for police department funding, but that was their choice. Others used it for anything from budget gaps to parking lot repair.
The other good point Kessler makes is that even if there had been some specific provision calling for funding to police, it was a one-time injection. It wouldn’t change the actual municipal budget for the police departments. That was all in the hands of Democratic-controlled city councils and mayors. And they went after them with abandon.
This was one of the dumber things to come out of the White House briefing room in quite a while. And that’s really saying something.