Many of you dismiss the “Defund the Police” movement as merely rhetorical excess, designed to get everyone’s undies twisted in knots. And you’d be correct. It’s really hyperbole meant to focus everyone’s attention to the need to reform law enforcement in this country, and to weed out racist, deadly brutality by cops who all too often literally get away with murder.
But let’s not dismiss the idea entirely of zeroing out certain agencies in the federal government that are beyond reform, at least right now. Think how Congress could regain control if the members would vote to defund the White House, at least as long as Donald Trump is president. Impossible, you say? Not if the members, Republicans and Democrats, could somehow be persuaded that Trump and his cronies do nothing constructive for the country and are, in fact, bent on its destruction.
Just think: no budget for Air Force One to take the Trumpster to rallies where he whips his dwindling legions of followers into a frenzy with a combination of bigotry, half-truths and full lies. No more overlooking the fact that he is most certainly killing off his supporters who cram into venues, most of them not wearing face masks, ignoring the deadly coronavirus pandemic that continues to fatally strike down and sicken Americans who were led to believe by Trump and his administration liars that it was safe to emerge from the lockdown and do whatever they wanted.
That’s called MAGA, folks. Well, to paraphrase that great thinker Sarah Palin, “How’s that make America great again thingy working out for you these days?” Members of the European Union are considering a ban on citizens of the United States from entering their countries because our leaders have so badly botched the handling of COVID. It’s still such a lethal threat here that these other nations don’t want to risk getting infected.
That would have been unthinkable just a few years ago, before Donald Trump alienated just about every ally and cozied up to every autocratic adversary.
We don’t need to continue paying for that kind of performance, so consider defunding the White House. And while we’re at it, let’s think about the Department of Justice, or at least the office of Attorney General Bill Barr.
Barr has forgotten that he is supposed to legally represent the entire nation and has become just another of Donald Trump’s personal lawyers. Trump could pay for Barr’s billable hours.
Appropriators should think about defunding the Interior Department and the Environmental Protection Agency. The industries that control them can pay for their operation, since the agencies’ main function these days is to do their bidding.
Now we’re hearing that the Treasury Department sent a billion and a half dollars in stimulus payments to dead people. Off with their wallets!
Meanwhile, President Trump continues to misuse his vast power to call up U.S. Marshals and military forces to maintain his idea of order — aka, political advantage. And he does have a potent issue here. He can portray himself as a defender of U.S. history, protecting the monuments to slavery from “anarchist thugs” and every other kind of hooligan.
Perhaps the answer is to defund everything. That way we can pass the ultimate tax reform bill and eliminate taxes, because there won’t be anything to pay for.
Bob Franken is an Emmy Award-winning reporter who covered Washington for more than 20 years with CNN; his opinions are his own.