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February 6, 2018

Prez Trump trumpets again his interest in getting "really, really tough, really mean with the drug pushers and the drug dealers"

As noted in this prior post, Prez Trump last week in his State of the Union address spoke about "reforming our prisons" and the need to "get much tougher on drug dealers."  The first comment, coming on the heels of other prison reform talk, has garnered the most attention among criminal justice reform advocates.  But the second comment ought also get some attention, especially because Ronald Bailey has highlighted at Reason that Prez Trump doubled-down on these comments this week.

This Reason commentary, headlined "Trump Wants Us 'To Get Really, Really Tough, Really Mean with the Drug Pushers': Doubling down on a drug war that has failed for 40 years," take a critical look at what the President is saying. Here is how is starts (with links from the original):

What's the best way to address the national problem of opioid abuse and overdose deaths? "My take," President Donald Trump declared in Ohio yesterday, "is you have to get really, really tough, really mean with the drug pushers and the drug dealers. We can do all the blue ribbon committees we want—[applause]—we have to get a lot tougher than we are."

The president's dismissal of blue ribbon commissions is somewhat perplexing, since he ordered that one be created just last March—the President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. In any case, the president is evidently eager to rev up the war on drugs.

What might the president mean by getting really tough on drug pushers? One clue might be his phone call to Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte last April. "I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem," Trump said. "Many countries have the problem, we have a problem, but what a great job you are doing and I just wanted to call and tell you that."

As big a blustering blowhard as our president is, I trust that he is not actually contemplating Duterte-style extrajudicial killings when he says "we have to get a lot tougher than we are." Nevertheless, it is clear that the president has learned nothing from the failures of the war on drugs. Over the past four decades, the government has spent more than trillion dollars, locked up millions of Americans, and undermined our civil liberties, especially our Fourth Amendment protections against search and seizure, to stop the drug trade. Despite all the resources wasted and lives lost, the prices of illicit drugs have generally declined.

Prohibitionists claim that the drug war has reduced drug-related crime, decreased drug-related disease and overdose, and disrupted and dismantled organized criminal enterprises. But in a paper last year for the Cato Institute, George Mason University economists Christopher Coyne and Abigail Hall show that "prohibition is not only ineffective, but counterproductive, at achieving the goals of policymakers both domestically and abroad. Given the insights from economics and the available data, we find that the domestic War on Drugs has contributed to an increase in drug overdoses and fostered and sustained the creation of powerful drug cartels."

February 6, 2018 at 06:03 PM | Permalink


Even in light of such idiotic comments from Trump, Doug can't even choke out that this development is "disappointing." Just that it "ought also get some attention." What would Doug's post have looked like if Obama said the same thing...

Posted by: Paul | Feb 7, 2018 9:22:55 AM

Paul: If I commented on every dumb and disappointing thing Prez Trump says, I would not have time to do anything else. What the Obama era reinforced for me is that actions, not words, are most properly the focus of criticism or praise. I am concerned that Trump's "really tough, really mean" talk might lead to problematic actions by him or others, but so far we have not (yet) seen a dramatic increase in federal drug prosecutions and sentencings. (Also, FWIW, I quoted at length the Reason coverage because it provides good critical context.)

Posted by: Doug B | Feb 7, 2018 10:36:10 AM

According to our dear leader and Fuehrer:
⦁ James Comey is a liar
⦁ Christopher Steele is a liar
⦁ Glenn Simpson is a liar
⦁ Steve Bannon is a liar
⦁ Michael Wolfe is a liar
⦁ Michael Flynn is a liar
⦁ George Papadopolous is a liar
⦁ Reince Priebus is a liar
⦁ Robert Mueller is a liar
⦁ Frederica Wilson is a liar
⦁ John Brennan is a liar
⦁ James Clapper is a liar
⦁ Carmen Cruz is a liar
⦁ Barack Obama is a liar
⦁ Ted Cruz is a liar
⦁ Adam Schiff is a liar
⦁ the FBI are liars
⦁ The CIA are liars
⦁ The NSA are liars
⦁ The Boy Scouts of America are liars
⦁ CNN, NBC, ABC, the NYT, and WaPo are all liars
⦁ 16 sexual assault / harassment accusers are liars
⦁ Etc., etc., etc....

Only Donald Trump, a proven serial / pathological liar is not a liar, and the only person he does not and cannot attack (because he is being blackmailed) is Vlad ("the Impaler") Putin

Posted by: anon15 | Feb 7, 2018 12:23:11 PM

All my Filipino friends love President Duterte. He is a lawyer, but learned the Civil Code. That is a strong leader. Donald Trump is a weak leader, and a NYC liberal. Duterte likely prevented many more overdose deaths than the number of dealers he killed.

I pray he does not become a casualty of the fentanyl he has been suing. Claims to have a bad back.

Posted by: David Behar | Feb 7, 2018 1:01:13 PM

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