Last updated on April 4, 2021
Fox News recently highlighted that Moscow Mitch is totally against the “defund the police” movement:
His comments referenced the growing left-wing movement in cities such as Minneapolis — where George Floyd died last month in police custody — New York City and beyond.
“We’re already seeing outlandish calls, ‘defund the police,’ ‘abolish the police,’ take root within the left-wing leadership class,” McConnell, R-Ky., said on the Senate floor Monday.
“The president of the city council in Minneapolis proclaimed she can imagine a future without the police,” McConnell continued Monday. “I’m all for social work and mental health. Call me old fashioned, but I think you may actually want a police officer to stop a criminal and arrest him before we try to work through his feelings.”
But according to Peter Beinart at The Atlantic, McConnell is the one who is actually defunding the police:
On a modest scale, police defunding is happening. For years, powerful police unions have made law-enforcement funding all but untouchable. As The New York Times noted in 2018, the number of police per capita has risen over the past three decades even as crime rates have plunged. Last week, however, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that he would shave at least $100 million from his city’s law-enforcement budget. On Sunday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio declared he would cut police funding too. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has said he’s considering a similar move. In Milwaukee and Portland, Oregon, school districts have diverted funds used to pay police into other programs.
The main instigator for these changes, of course, is the protest movement sparked by the police killings of George Floyd and other African Americans. In their efforts to reduce law-enforcement budgets, however, the protesters have an unlikely ally: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. By spurning congressional Democrats’ efforts to dispatch additional aid to state and local governments, McConnell is enabling budgetary crises in city after city. These crises, in turn, are making well-funded police departments an easier target.
Police budgets are mostly paid by local governments. And for local governments, COVID-19 has been a fiscal catastrophe. Local governments fund themselves through a combination of property taxes, sales taxes, income taxes, special taxes (on the occupants of hotels, for instance), and aid from states. By slashing consumer spending, the pandemic has slashed sales-tax revenue. The collapse of tourism has decimated special taxes paid by the hospitality industry, and job losses have reduced revenue from income taxes. Moreover, states—which face their own budgetary shortfalls—are likely to cut local aid. The result, according to the National League of Cities, is that from now until 2022, cities collectively face a budgetary hole of $360 billion.
On May 15, House Democrats responded by passing the HEROES Act, which would have allocated close to $1 trillion to state, local, and tribal governments—$375 billion of which would have gone to cities and counties. Because most states and many cities start their fiscal year on July 1, that cash might have helped local governments stave off major budget cuts.
Senate Republicans, however, oppose another large infusion of federal funds anytime soon. In April, McConnell suggested that states respond to their fiscal woes by declaring bankruptcy. Earlier this month, Chuck Grassley, the Republican chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, cited a better-than-expected May jobs report as evidence that Congress should “not rush to pass expensive legislation paid for with more debt.”
That means many cities must make large cuts soon. Budget crises alone may not have led to lower police funding, and protests alone may not have, either. But they form a potent combination.
Eighteen New York Republicans, including close allies of President Trump like Reps. Lee Zeldin and Elise Stefanik, signed a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) calling for an additional $3.9 billion in funding for the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) in the next round of stimulus.
Although the CARES Act provided about $4 billion to the public transit system, the Thursday letter states, the sum is not enough to cover its needs.
“New York has been the epicenter of this crisis in the United States,” the letter states. “The essential workers on the frontlines who have rightly received so much praise and appreciation depend on mass transit to get to their critical jobs. Healthcare providers, pharmacists, first responders and grocery store workers cannot be left stranded at the time when they’re needed most.”
One wild card in the Democratic contest could be fallout from recent protests in Louisville, the state’s most heavily Democratic area. People took to the streets to demand justice for Breonna Taylor, who was killed in her home in March. The 26-year-old black EMT was shot eight times by Louisville narcotics detectives who knocked down her front door while attempting to enforce a search warrant. No drugs were found in the home.
Booker, who is black, was the most visible of the candidates in demanding change, standing with protesters in his hometown. He spoke passionately about police treatment of blacks and the cycle of violence and poverty plaguing African Americans.
“I’ve been in those streets demanding justice,” he said. “This isn’t a tweet for me. It isn’t aspirational to just say we need to listen and do more. We need results right now.”
The state’s primary, usually in late May, was pushed back to June 23 because of the pandemic. Both Senate primaries drew crowded fields of candidates, though McConnell faces only token opposition from a half-dozen challengers. McGrath, Booker and Broihier have commanded the attention on the Democratic side. The politically wily McConnell has looked beyond his primary in trying to influence voters’ views of McGrath.
Another uncertainty is what impact the state’s altered election, due to the coronavirus pandemic, will have on voter participation. Kentuckians are being allowed to vote by mail.
(Longtime Kentucky political commentator Al) Cross sees that as an advantage for McGrath. The better-known of the three leading Democratic candidates, she has spent on advertising to inform people how to vote by mail.
“She clearly benefits from easier voting because her voters are less motivated,” he said. “She is the moderate, relatively speaking.”
We’ll see what happens on June 23rd. Until then click below to donate and get involved with the Democratic candidate of your choice:
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