The Washington Post fact-checker has attempted to defend Vice President Joe Biden from charges that he wants to “defund the police” by explaining that spending less money on the police does not actually mean “defunding” them.
On Tuesday, Glenn Kessler wrote:
We should pause a moment and explain what “defund the police” means. It generally does not mean eliminating the police. Instead, advocates want to redirect some funds now spent on police forces to items such as education, public health, housing and youth services. The idea is that low-income communities would become stronger — and less in need of police — if root problems were addressed.
Under this concept, some police officers would be replaced with trained social workers or specialized response teams in an effort to let police focus on violent crime, not drug overdoses or homelessness. The theory is that police would be better positioned to deal with rapes and murders if they were not required to deal with other social ills that sometimes lead to community confrontations with police.
Kessler admits that Biden agreed with a proposal to “redirect” police funding, along the lines described above but argues that is not the same as defunding the police.
As conservative columnist Byron York noted on Twitter, however: “If ‘redirecting’ funds from Program X to Program Y is not ‘defunding’ Program X, what is it? If Republicans proposed to take money from Obamacare to give to, say, Voter ID initiatives, would that be ‘defunding’ Obamacare, or just ‘redirecting’ funding?
If 'redirecting' funds from Program X to Program Y is not 'defunding' Program X, what is it? If Republicans proposed to take money from Obamacare to give to, say, Voter ID initiatives, would that be 'defunding' Obamacare, or just 'redirecting' funding? https://t.co/rsH6p6ryfl
— Byron York (@ByronYork) July 15, 2020
Kessler assigns “four Pinocchios” to a Trump ad that claimed: “Joe Biden’s supporters are fighting to defund police departments.”
But Trump’s claim is 100% accurate — and, worse, many Democrats who intend to campaign and vote for Biden are in favor of abolishing the police.
True, Biden has publicly opposed abolishing the police. He has even called for more spending — on “meaningful reforms” to police. But he wants to have his cake and eat it too, as Kessler says of Trump.
Biden wants to reassure moderate and suburban voters who are terrified at calls to “defund the police,” while not opposing the idea of defunding the police strongly enough to provoke a backlash from the left-wing activist base of the Democratic Party.
Hence the hair-splitting on “re-directing,” the claims that defunding is not actually “defunding.”
Meanwhile, Biden’s supporters — such as the teachers’ unions — are flat-out demanding the elimination of the Los Angeles School Police Department and other such agencies.
It takes a lot of effort to spin that into four Pinocchios.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.