Less than 24 hours after agreeing to a two-year budget deal with the Republican Congress, President Barack Obama slammed Republicans for budget cuts, telling police chiefs in Chicago that they had tried to cut funding for police.
Obama praised the budget deal, which raises the debt ceiling through 2017 and allows spending to grow by $80 billion over two years. However, the president could not resist the opportunity to cast Republicans as the villains.
“I’ll be honest with you. In the past, some Republicans in Congress have tried to cut funding for the COPS program to zero,” Obama said, referring to the Community Oriented Policing Services program, which encourages police to develop closer personal relationships with the communities they patrol. “And I’ve argued that’s wrong. It won’t make us safer. It’s time more folks in Washington started valuing our cops. Not just giving lip service to them.”
Obama was referring to cuts proposed during the 2011 debt ceiling crisis–when Republicans felt some pressure to live up to their promises of balancing the budget. Ironically, Obama himself failed to fund COPS. The left-leaning PolitiFact has rated Obama’s 2008 campaign promise to fund the COPS program as a “promise broken”: “Obama said he would fully fund the federal community policing program, using an implied definition of $1 billion per year. Since the program received well below $1 billion for each of the last three years, we rate this a Promise Broken.”
Last week, Obama endorsed the Black Lives Matter movement, which has been accused of encouraging shootings of police officers, and on occasion has actually called for violence against police.
In Chicago on Tuesday, Obama promised to direct Attorney General Loretta Lynch to “find out exactly why this is happening” and to help stop it.