Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) claimed that President Joe Biden is “well on his way to becoming the most pro-crime administration in history” at an event Friday hosted by the Manhattan Institute in Washington, D.C.
Cotton asserted that Democrats are “pro-riot, anti-cop, anti-prosecutor” and have “more sympathy for violent criminals than innocent victims.” The U.S. is seeing a resulting level of violence, Cotton claimed, that “would have been unimaginable five years ago” and constitutes the “greatest assault on the rule of law in modern times.”
Cotton has long been a critic of Democratic strategies for fighting crime. In 2016, he advocated against a criminal-leniency bill that would have reduced mandatory minimum sentencing. He claimed Friday that the ominous predictions for the future he made then were “if anything, too optimistic.”
The senator’s concerns about crime come amidst the growing recognition by the Left that the problem has reached a new low. Major cities across America are facing unprecedented rises in violent crimes like rapes, aggravated assaults, and robberies. Preliminary FBI data suggests that there was a 25 percent nationwide increase in murders in 2020 — the greatest increase on record.
While Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) dismissed the worry about crime as mere “hysteria” on Sunday, CNN recently characterized 2020’s sharp increase in homicides, rapes, robberies, and aggravated assaults as “historic and far-reaching.” The New York Times reported June 1 that cities are “brac[ing] for a violent summer” and NBC noted June 16 that a spike in police deaths “mirror[s] the increase in violent crime across the country.”
Biden announced a plan on Wednesday to address the crisis by increasing gun control laws, investing in resources for law enforcement officers, and expanding community economic and social programs. But Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, issued a statement Thursday calling the plan “a weak and ineffective strategy that will never get at the crux of the violent crime problem.”
Cotton attributed the crime wave to Democratic prosecutors who give career criminals “sweetheart deals,” apathy about drugs entering from the southern border, tolerance for political violence and rioting, and leftist policies that reduce support for police officers.
Cotton called for America to reinvest in the “three P’s of criminal justice”: police, prosecutors, and prisons, including putting 100,000 additional police officers on the streets. He took issue with leftist prosecutors’ tendency to push for leniency when sentencing criminals, stating, “If you don’t want to prosecute crime, you should not be a prosecutor.”
Cotton also pointed out that the majority of drugs in the U.S. come across the southern border and that border officers have seized enough fentanyl this year to kill every American several times over. “An open border,” he said, “is a death sentence for many Americans.”
Cotton tied policing issues to civil rights, arguing that Black Lives Matter supporters’ calls to “defund the police” ultimately harm the demographic they seek to empower. Weak policing, prosecuting, and sentencing hurts black Americans disproportionately, Cotton pointed out, as they represent half of all murder victims and regularly suffer greater economic damage from riots.
Cotton also emphasized that there should be zero tolerance for rioting and political violence of any kind, a reiteration of his New York Times op-ed “Send in the Troops,” which was published in June 2020. Cotton argued in the op-ed that President Trump should send federal troops to quell the unrest of the Black Lives Matter riots and drew sharp criticism for doing so.
A survey last week by Yahoo News and YouGov revealed that 55 percent of Americans consider violent crime to be a “very big problem” in the U.S., compared with only 36 percent of Americans who consider the coronavirus pandemic to be a big problem. The percentage of Americans who are concerned about crime is up from 49 percent in May and includes both Republicans and Democrats.
For Cotton, these types of surveys are a sign that “our leaders need to get on the same page as our people” and address the issue with greater urgency.