White House stands by Biden on murder, rape rates
Biden incited the ire of Republicans on Wednesday when he doubled down on the suggestion that the country would see an increase in rapes and murders if the jobs bill, which would provide funds for state and local governments to hire teachers, fire fighters and police officers, is not passed.
"Police departments, as I said, in some cases literally cut in half like Camden, New Jersey and Flint, Michigan," Biden said in Washington, referencing remarks he made in Michigan last week. "In many cities the result has been, and it's not unique, murder rates are up. Robberies are up. Rapes are up."
Asked if the president agreed with Biden's comments, Carney said yes.
"I think it would be hard to find anyone who doesn't agree with the simple equation that fewer police officers on the street has a direct effect on the crime rate," he told reporters.
Biden, in a conversation with a conservative journalist following his initial remarks, pointed to rising crime rates in Michigan to back his claim.
"I said rape was up three times in Flint. Those are the numbers. Go look at the numbers. Murder is up, rape is up, burglary is up. That's what I said," said Biden.
Carney said the president "absolutely does share" Biden's belief that an increase in the number of law enforcement officials on the street will lead to a decrease in crime.
"We saw this in the '90s...I don't know that anybody, any lawmaker up on Capitol Hill, will contest that simple fact," he said. ...Having more law enforcement officers on the job, police officers on the job, would have a positive impact on crime. That's the point he was making. And that's a point that the president absolutely does share."
When asked how Mr. Obama would respond Republicans contending "they're being told their opposition means more people will be raped; more people will be murdered," Carney wondered if the GOP was trying to argue that there was no correlation between the number of employed police officers and crime rates.
"You know, you can focus on the words or you can focus on the simple fact," Carney said. "The president put in the American Jobs Act a provision that would provide assistance to states to put teachers back to work and to put firefighters and police officers back to work, first responders."
"I mean, are they arguing -- are Republicans arguing that there is no correlation between the number of cops on the beat and the crime rate?" Carney asked. "That would be an interesting argument to hear. It's a new one, a novel one, but I'd like to hear it."
He continued: "Yes, we are saying that more police officers on the beat is a good thing and will help keep crime rates lower. More firefighters fighting fires will reduce the impact that fires will have in our communities and will save lives. That's a fact."
The $35 billion jobs bill is one measure from the president's $447 billion American Jobs Act, which could not get through Congress earlier this month. Mr. Obama has since vowed to push each component of the bill through Congress piecemeal, and has dared Republican lawmakers to look voters "in the eye" and tell them "what exactly they are opposed to" in a bill aimed at putting teachers, police officers, and firefighters back to work.
"I think they'd have a hard time explaining why they voted no on this bill other than the fact that I proposed it," Mr. Obama said in an October 11 speech. "Folks should ask their senators, 'Why would you consider voting against putting teachers... back to work?'"
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said he will hold a vote on the $35 billion bill by the end of this week, but it is not expected to get the 60 votes necessary to move forward in the Senate.
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