Editor’s note: After this commentary was written, the U.S. Senate voted 81-14 to overturn the Washington, D.C. City Council’s plan to lower the penalties for criminal offenses.
President Joe Biden announced he will not veto a resolution passed by the Republican-controlled House, which overturns a new District of Columbia crime reform law, assuming the resolution passes in the Senate.
The district is under federal jurisdiction, so Congress can overturn D.C. legislation. But this is the first time in 30 years that it has happened.
Now a shell-shocked chair of the left-wing D.C. city council says he’s pulling the bill, which reduces sentencing on many felonies, including carjackings and burglaries.
You are justified in rubbing your eyes in disbelief that President Biden has sided with Republicans. Even more so that this goes against the grain of Democrats who support home rule, freeing D.C. from federal jurisdiction.
The liberal online journal Slate ran a headline saying the president “stabbed D.C.in the back.”
But President Biden remains in touch with political reality.
NBC News reported in early January that the new year started off with a notable spike in crime in D.C. compared to the same period the year before. Thefts from cars were reported up 30%, car thefts up 113%, robberies up 57% and overall property crime up 42%.
Per The Washington Post, police records show that in the first two months of 2023, D.C. homicides were up 34% compared to the same period in 2022.
Just a few weeks ago, Democratic Rep. Angie Craig was attacked inside an elevator in the D.C. building where she resides. She succeeded in escaping the assailant, who physically assaulted her, by throwing her hot morning coffee on him.
Per Rep. Craig, “I got attacked by someone who the District of Columbia has not prosecuted fully over the course of almost a decade, over the course of 12 assaults before mine that morning.”
President Biden’s fine-tuned political nose detects the fragrance of an upcoming election year, and he has plenty to worry about.
He enjoyed a 57% percent approval rating per Gallup in the early months of his presidency. But by the end of 2021, he was down to 42% and has hovered around there since.
Particularly bad news for the president is that, per Gallup, his latest approval rating on dealing with economy is 34%.
Per polling in February from Pew Research, the issue of most concern to Americans is the economy, with 75% saying “strengthening the economy” should be the number one priority of the president and congress.
And per Gallup, only 25% of those polled are satisfied with the state of the economy.
Crime is also a priority issue, and here also Americans are not pleased. Only 27% say they are satisfied with “the nation’s policies to reduce or control crime.”
Surely, President Biden also had an eye on the mayoral election in Chicago.
There incumbent Mayor Lori Lightfoot was decisively ousted by voters, getting just 17% of the vote in a field of nine candidates. This was the first time in 40 years that an incumbent mayor in Chicago failed in a re-election bid.
And a hot issue in Chicago is the dismal state of affairs regarding crime. Per the Wall Street Journal, “There were more than 800 murders in Chicago in 2021, the most in a quarter-century. The homicide rate dropped 14% in 2022, but remained nearly 40% higher than in 2019.”
So why did President Biden play ball with Republicans on the D.C. crime bill? Political instincts conquer all. Mr. Biden and his party are weak on the two issues voters give highest priority to: the economy and crime.
Our president is trying to survive. His refusal to veto the Republican-led resolution on the D.C. crime bill was his way of saying that things are looking good for Republicans in 2024.
Star Parker is president of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education and host of the weekly television show “Cure America with Star Parker.” To find out more about Star Parker and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.
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