Is Trump right to begin the federal defunding of 'anarchist' cities?
- Since George Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, 4,441 cities worldwide and counting have hosted BLM protests.
- The US cities with the most ongoing civil unrest are as follows: Portland, OR (began May 28), Seattle, WA (began May 29), Chicago, IL (began May 29), NYC, NY (May 28), Washington D.C. (May 29).
- Crime and homicide rates have skyrocketed since the above-listed cities embraced the defund the police movement and protests. Portland police reported in July the highest homicide rate in three decades. The NYPD announced a 23% murder increase from 2019 and a 130% increase in citywide shooting incidents. Chicago homicides jumped 39%, seeing multiple mass shootings spanning the July 4th weekend. D.C.’s Police Chief revealed in July the district had already surpassed 100 homicides in 2020—a 23% increase from 2019.
- According to the Washington Post, there were 999 fatal police shootings in 2019. 403 were white while 250 were black. Those who were white and unarmed were 25. Those who were black and unarmed were 14.
On Wednesday this week, the White House issued a memo promising to punish 'anarchist jurisdictions' by removing federal funding. Five pages long, the memo clearly identifies Seattle, Portland, Washington, DC, and New York as American cities in the memo's contents' crosshairs. It further compels the Justice Department to post a list of cities fitting the description as set out in the memo, while demanding executive agencies file reports with the Office of Management and Budget within 14 days, itemizing federal funding currently in place. Included in this funding is support for social services, housing, and public transportation.
But the truth of the matter is that Congress—not the President—controls the nation's purse strings. Additionally, Sam Berger, formerly of the OMB under President Obama, states, 'Any actual restriction on funding in court will immediately be sued and almost certainly struck down.' The memo appears to be nothing more than a 'campaign document,' as Evan Hollander, spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee, has said, furthering the emerging campaign narrative of 'law and order.'
The Tax Policy Center reveals 16% of the US federal budget is allocated to states and cities, amounting to $721 billion in the 2019 fiscal year or about ¼ of these jurisdictions' total budgets. Eliminating funding would cripple the jurisdictions involved, which seems an unduly punitive response from the Trump Administration to levy on top of COVID-impacted and struggling cities. All these cities caught in the memo's crosshairs are led by Democrats, a fact that can't be ignored in the immediate runup to a presidential election.
It remains to be seen whether or not Trump's recent memo to begin the process of defunding cities where 'anarchy' has been allowed to foment can withstand legal challenges. That doesn't negate the sentiment behind the order, the need for elected officials to act as leaders in their own cities.
The cities of New York, Washington D.C., Seattle and Portland are the starkest examples of mayors and governors who have abdicated their responsibility to act in the best interest of ALL their citizens, having instead opted for attempting to appease a small, contentious constituency. Unsurprisingly, these efforts are going awry. Mayors Durken and Wheeler are facing severe challenges in their respective cities.
Trump's repeated offer for federal assistance in combating violence throughout Democratic-lead American cities has continually been rejected. At the same time Trump's accused of politicizing the protests for his own gain, Democratic leadership has allowed the citywide lawlessness to cajole the masses into buying this is somehow 'Trump's America.' The harsh reality is this: while the rest of the country has managed to have peaceful protests and maintain law and order amid calls for needed change, these mayors continue to enable their cities to burn for the sake of appearing self-righteously 'woke.'
Maybe the unrest will quiet as both sides legitimately attempt to create discourse or perhaps, as seems more likely at the moment, one side is entirely unwilling to negotiate and have reasonable discussions. Trump's memo, legal or not, draws attention to this fact.