Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) accused President Biden Wednesday of being more interested in his “Super Bowl guacamole” than in addressing rising violent crime in cities across the US.
“I think President Biden has tolerated a lot of this,” Kennedy said Wednesday at a Capitol press conference where he and his colleagues portrayed the president as soft on crime ahead of this year’s midterm elections.
“An uncharitable person might say that his silence indicates that he’s — at least the administration is more interested in Super Bowl guacamole than the crime rate.”
Kennedy then proclaimed “it’s safer to walk down the streets of Mogadishu” in Somalia than those of “many of our cities,” which he called “some of the world’s largest outdoor shooting ranges.”
Biden visited New York City last week to discuss increasing rates of murder, carjacking and other violent crimes, but the public portion of his talks with local Democrats focused on lax gun laws in the South and relatively uncommon homemade “ghost guns,” rather than policies that critics say create a revolving door for violent criminals.
New York City had at least 485 murders in 2021 — up 4 percent from 2020 and 52 higher than in 2019 — and 10,421 car thefts, an annual jump of 15 percent and 92 percent more than the 5,430 car thefts in 2019. Other major cities logged similar increases.
Most law enforcement issues are handled by state and local governments, but the Republican senators said the US-Mexico border crisis is contributing to the rise in crime committed by alleged illegal immigrants and fueling a spike in US drug overdose deaths.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) slammed White House press secretary Jen Psaki for chuckling dismissively during a recent podcast interview in which she described coverage by conservative media of crime as coming from an “alternate universe.”
“On Fox is [‘The Five] co-host Jeanine Pirro talking about ‘soft-on-crime consequences,’” a grinning Psaki told Pod Save America. “I mean, what does that even mean, right?”
“Let me just read a couple examples of those consequences Jen Psaki and apparently this administration is giggling about,” said Johnson before reading through a list of recent crimes committed by suspected illegal immigrants, whose presence in the US he attributed to Biden’s border policies.
Johnson added that “we also have catch and release in our criminal justice system” — citing a Wisconsin court commissioner’s decision to release on bail alleged Waukesha, Wis., Christmas parade mass-murder Darrell Brooks Jr.
Brooks was released from jail two days before the vehicular killing of six and maiming of others, despite facing charges for allegedly ramming his ex-girlfriend with the same car.
“I can’t help but think of little children sitting on the curb. expecting to see Santa Claus and instead watching people being slaughtered right in front of them,” Johnson said.
Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) also invoked the southern border, where officials apprehended a record-breaking 1.9 million people last year.
“Everybody watching this knows or knows of somebody who’s died of an overdose. That is directly related to this porous border,” Lankford said.
CDC data released in November 2021 showed a surge in overdose deaths in the 12-month period that ended this past April — which included the first three full months of Biden’s presidency — with more than 100,000 US fatalities compared to about 78,000 the year before.
Lankford also noted that federal officials cited DC’s “sanctuary city” policy this week when saying they won’t deport Mexican citizen Geraldo Pando, who was arrested last month for drawing swastikas on DC’s Union Station one day after International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Pando reportedly has been deported four times — in 2006, 2007, 2014 and 2017.
The White House has defended Biden’s handling of crime, citing his annual budget from May that asked Congress to approve $651 million — a $265 million increase — for the Justice Department Office Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), of which $537 million would go toward helping jurisdictions hire more cops. That request hasn’t yet been adopted.
In June, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives announced a “zero tolerance” policy for “rogue” gun dealers accused of violating rules and the Justice Department announced new “strike forces” to slow the flow of guns into New York and four other cities.
The DOJ in November announced $139 million in COPS Hiring Program grants to help local forces hire 1,066 additional full-time police. However, local forces had to request the money and only five jurisdictions in New York got funds for a total of just six new officers in the state.
For much of his career, Biden led the charge in federalizing crime policy, including sponsoring the 1994 law that created the federal COPS office, but which also sent some pot dealers to prison for life without parole.
Biden’s historic anti-crime rhetoric drew groans from fellow Democrats as he sought the party’s presidential nomination in 2020. Left-wing critics pointed to Biden saying in 1989 that then-President George H.W. Bush’s crime plan “does not include enough police officers to catch the violent thugs, enough prosecutors to convict them, enough judges to sentence them, or enough prison cells to put them away for a long time.”
Biden was notably more muted during the violent crime spike that followed anti-police brutality protests and riots in May and June 2020. The then-Democratic candidate said he didn’t support proposals to slash police, but that he was open to “redirecting” some funds and that he believed there was an “urgent need for reform” of policing.