“The rest of us need to rethink prisons and punishment. The next time you hear someone saying there are too many people in prison, ask them how many thugs they’re willing to relocate to their neighborhood. The answer: None.” ~Donald Trump, “The America We Deserve”
The House Judiciary Committee has passed a number of good bills protecting public safety that haven’t see the light of day on the House floor. The committee passed comprehensive interior enforcement – the Davis-Oliver bill – which deals with sanctuary cities and dangerous criminal aliens. It has also passed a bill reforming asylum loopholes. These bills address the most pressing issues of our time and the biggest priorities of the president, and they all passed committee months ago. Yet when the same committee passes a terrible jailbreak bill that will hurt public safety, it is fast-tracked onto the House floor today with the president’s support, just two weeks after passing the committee.
Too many members might not know what this bill does
People with an agenda about prisons, in a vacuum, are pushing this terrible bill that will retroactively release thousands of people early, including 4,000 who will be released immediately. Earlier this month, I wrote an outline of some of the most egregious provisions of the bill, but the more important question today is: Why? Why, of all things, are they rushing to get Trump to violate one of the strongest principles of his campaign without any effort to pass all the conservative things he is pushing that this same committee passed in two successive sessions of Congress?
This is an issue on which Trump has articulated the most consistent support for the conservative position throughout his career. For his entire career, he has stood opposed to the leniency agenda that has now monopolized both sides of the political aisle. In particular, he promised to get tough on the drug traffickers who will all be eligible for multiple avenues of retroactive release under the bill he is now supporting.
Sadly, it appears that, just as with the terrible omnibus bill, many members of Congress and perhaps even the president don’t really know what’s in this bill. They are being told that this is some “prison reform” and “job training” for prisoners. It’s as if they think this bill is about granting prisoners better-quality food or mattresses. They were never told of the multiple retroactive early release provisions, the unworkable relocation of thousands of prisoners, and the endless lawsuits that will empower liberal judges to unleash the very crime wave that Trump warned about.
In fact, writing in “The America We Deserve,” Trump used the crime issue more than any other to advocate for electing judges. “Criminals are often returned to society because of forgiving judges. This has to stop. We need to hold judges more accountable, and the best way to make that happen is to elect them. Whey they hurt us, we need to make sure we can vote them out of the job.”
It would be one thing if along with this bill, Congress would pass numerous other bills to strengthen sentencing on heroin and fentanyl dealers, as the president promised. It would be one thing if we’d crack down on the loopholes allowing judges to release murderers. But this bill applies the good-time credits to almost every prisoner. When all of the leniencies are combined, a heroin trafficker sentenced to 10 years in prison could be released after 5 years and 7 months. While some will suggest that Attorney General Sessions would not use his discretion to approve of releasing violent people, remember that Trump will not be president forever, but this statute will live indefinitely.
We get the stinger of “conservative” lobbying but not the honey
This is the problem with the president’s legislative agenda. He is doing really well on foreign policy and on issues that don’t require congressional input. But when it comes to legislative agenda, he is getting his lunch eaten every day. He gives the Left everything it wants on budget bills and gets nothing in return. He gives the Left jailbreak and gets nothing on border security or drug trafficking.
The blame should be pinned on Marc Short. As White House director of legislative affairs, he is the point man on legislative issues. But guess what? He comes from the Koch operation, which is rabidly pro-open-borders and supportive of the criminal justice “reform” agenda that led to the Parkland killer never being incarcerated.
Conservatives face this problem from all the sectarian interests on the Right. We are incurring all of the liabilities of the libertarians but none of the benefits. We are incurring all of the liabilities of the “pro-family” organizations but none of the benefits.
For example, the Kochs are out in full force to promote de-incarceration of drug traffickers, but I don’t see any of their libertarianism when it comes time to fight the billions of dollars on wasted “drug treatment” programs as part of the indefatigable agenda of Congress to misdiagnose the opioid crisis. Where is the great libertarian nirvana when it comes to fighting the farm bill and working for free market health care? Where is their ability to force immediate results on free market issues?
All of these “pro-family” organizations that have long since surrendered the fight against the Rainbow Jihad and are nowhere to be seen when we are trying to push back on the civilization issues suddenly discover their inner “pro-family” voice when it comes to being super nice to heroin dealers. That is, when they are not pushing “compassion” with refugees and illegal immigration. It is so hard to find any of them engaging on the defense authorization bill to push back against the transgender agenda or helping military chaplains being persecuted by the Rainbow Jihad. I don’t see them key-voting Steve King’s amendments on those issues. Meanwhile, these groups have failed to get a single bill passed through a committee, much less the House floor, responding to the Obergefell decision redefining marriage and the religious liberty nightmare it created.
The reason is very simple. The old adage “when you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” reigns supreme in politics. Everyone has weak issues, but rather than assembling a coalition on the Right to harness the greatest common factor of everyone’s conservatism, we incur the lowest common denominator of everyone’s perfidy. Why? It’s easier.
Why is Trump in such a rush to violate his long-held principles on crime?
This bill has already been modified because, while supporters tout this as an innocuous “prison reform bill,” they had to take out the provision requiring the Bureau of Prisons to move thousands of dangerous prisoners closer to their homes. So, given that most members never read the original bill or were briefed on the final text, why are they rushing to vote on this today without studying the consequences of the “good-time credits” and other provisions with huge implications?
Also, this is called the “First Step Act” for a reason – this is just the first step to dismantling tougher sentencing, and the movement behind this bill is open about that motivation. For those who think they are not voting for jailbreak, remember this bill is a down payment.
Perhaps these members of Congress ought to speak to victims more often than to jailbreak special interest groups.
This bill violates the entire philosophy of the president on crime. In his book, “The America We Deserve,” Trump warned that “unless we stand up for tough anticrime policies, they will be replaced by policies that emphasize criminals’ rights over those of ordinary citizens.” He perfectly illustrated the problem with the Swamp mentality by noting, “Soft criminal sentences are based on the proposition that criminals are the victims of society” and “people in high places really do believe that criminals are victims.”
What would Trump of yesteryear say about the obsession with and focus on jailbreak “programs?”
Tough crime policies are the most important form of national defense. Government’s number-one job is to ensure domestic tranquility, and that means tranquilizing the criminal element as much as possible. Aggressive anticrime policies are the best social program, because they allow citizens in all neighborhoods, and especially the tougher ones, to live and work in a safe environment. They also protect children from the predatory mob that brutalizes them at every turn.
Indeed, Trump promised in his acceptance speech, “I have a message for all of you. The crime and violence that today afflicts America will soon – and I mean very soon – come to an end.”
So what has happened? There are too many people around the president who are lying to him, just like they did on the budget bills and the health care bill last year.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.