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Biden’s proposed police bill, in context
Speaking Security Newsletter | Note n°169 | 16 August 2022
According to a White House memo, Joe Biden will be spending much of the rest of August on the road, highlighting his past accomplishments (namely, the infrastructure bill and recently-passed IRA) as part of an effort to boost Democrats’ midterm prospects.
The only pending piece of legislation it looks like Biden’s trying to build public support for is his Safer America Plan, a proposal centered on providing state and local governments with $13 billion to hire 100,000 additional police officers. (Biden had previously encouraged state and local governments to redirect unspent Covid relief funds to police, on top of the funding already allocated through the American Rescue Plan.)
The Los Angeles Times criticized Biden’s Safer America Plan, arguing that funding the hiring of 100,000 more police officers instead of an expanded set of social services “may be a smart political calculation…[b]ut it’s the wrong move for public safety.”
Their public safety argument makes sense, but I don’t think it’s a smart political calculation either. As the aforementioned White House memo states, the (very limited) social services and everyday cost reductions the infrastructure and IRA provide are publicly popular. That Biden isn’t marketing a proposal that scales up and expands on those (again, very limited) deliverables—opting instead to subsidize police—seems ill-conceived, particularly given the context of overfunded state and local budgets for police (and prisons):