Ambitious Sen. Scott Doubletalks His Way Through Police Reform

Ambitious Sen. Scott Doubletalks His Way Through Police Reform

South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott’s been told for years by Republican leaders that he is “the future of the Republican Party” — and by that, they mean he will one day make a useful prop for their expanding black votes for the Republicans. This is reality, because they’ve been putting him front and center as a “bipartisan” senator for a while, and it always follows a predictable pattern. He makes a few public statements that seem to be outside the GOP’s typical thinking, he’s seen publicly “working” on said issue, and after it all falls apart (due to his own inability to negotiate agree to anything outside the narrow range Republicans have already approved), he announces it was all due to Democratic obstructionism.

Because of course.

I bring this to readers’ attention because he’s so ambitious — not on behalf of any actual policy or agenda, mind you, but for his own political elevation, as is usual for Republicans. Keep an eye on him.

Here are some highlights from his Face The Nation interview with Margaret Sullivan yesterday, and everything goes about as you would expect.

MARGARET BRENNAN: With Republicans in control, it went nowhere. Democrats in control, it’s going nowhere.

SEN. SCOTT: But both times, the person- the folks that left the table were the Democrats. Let’s just be clear that we have stayed at the table. We said simply this: ‘I’m not going to participate in reducing funding for the police after we saw major city after major city defund the police.’ Many provisions in this bill that he wanted me to agree to limited or reduced funding for the police. That’s a lose-lose proposition. When you reduce funding for police, you actually lose lives in the communities. Our approach was a win-win approach. We want the best wearing the badge and we want the vulnerable protected. So when you tie funding losses in this legislation, you should expect an allergic reaction from me.

What a shameless liar. He’s good at it, isn’t he?

MARGARET BRENNAN: But they would say that there wasn’t a net loss of funding. In fact, there was funding being increased in terms of increased mental health funding, specifically. That there were specific programs for recruitment and training funding increases, body worn camera funding increases, data collection–

SEN. SCOTT: Yes, all-

MARGARET BRENNAN: So that’s not cutting funding. It might be allocating it in different ways.

SEN. SCOTT: Actually, here’s what we know. We have about a billion dollars in grant money that goes to police. When you start saying in order to receive those dollars, you must do A, B and C. And if you don’t do A, B, and C, you literally lose eligibility for the two major pots of money the Byrne grants and the COP grants. When you tell local law enforcement agencies that you are ineligible for money, that’s defunding the police, there’s no way to spin that. You can spin it by saying–

MARGARET BRENNAN: But this would codify the Trump executive orders.

SEN. SCOTT: The Trump executive order I actually agree to. What I did not agree to was the cuts that come from noncompliance. When you say once again that in order for you to receive the money for the Byrne grants or the COP grants, you must do the following, and if you don’t do the following you lose money — that’s more defunding the police. We saw that tried throughout the country.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You do want to cut funding for underperformance, is what you’re saying?

SEN. SCOTT: Not at all. I would say–

MARGARET BRENNAN: You would want to increase to police departments that aren’t doing what they are supposed to be doing?

SEN. SCOTT: Let’s look at- let’s look at what we’re asking for. What the Democrats asked for was a simple thing. They asked for more reporting on serious bodily injury to death. I said, that’s a great idea. When they wanted to nationalize local policing, I said, that’s a bad idea. When they say that every single traffic stop in this country must be reported to the federal government, whether it’s a traffic ticket or stopping someone on the- on the streets of New York or Charleston – every single time that you have any interaction, for the federal government to be in charge of all that information, I say, let’s do it, but let’s do it voluntarily.

And so on. The Republican solution is, as always, to give even more unaccountable money to police departments, because cops are an important part of their base and they will not only give them more money, they will erode even what little control we still retain over bad police behavior.

Republicans will continue to push Scott in front because he’s Black, hoping that will inoculate them from being punished at the polls for policies that disproportionately fall on minority communities. I would hope that voters wouldn’t fall for it, but after the past five years, I never say never.

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