Well, the Drug Czar has come out with the proposed FY 2011 drug policy budget, and now we get to see Director Kerlikowske’s new focus on treatment. Remember…
The White House said yesterday that it will push for treatment, rather than incarceration, of people arrested for drug-related crimes as it announced the nomination of Seattle Police Chief R. Gil Kerlikowske to oversee the nation’s effort to control illegal drugs.
The choice of drug czar and the emphasis on alternative drug courts, announced by Vice President Biden, signal a sharp departure from Bush administration policies, gravitating away from cutting the supply of illicit drugs from foreign countries and toward curbing drug use in communities across the United States.
The Obama administration’s nominee for director of National Drug Control Policy said he will take a balanced approach to drug policy with a renewed focus on the prevention and treatment of addiction, if he is confirmed as the nation’s new drug czar.
The Obama administration’s new drug czar says he wants to banish the idea that the U.S. is fighting “a war on drugs,” a move that would underscore a shift favoring treatment over incarceration in trying to reduce illicit drug use.
“People,” [Kerlikowske] says, “want a different conversation” about drug policies. With his first report to the president early next year, he could increase the quotient of realism.
So now… (drum roll, please)… the new realism… the focus on treatment… the new 2011 Drug Policy Budget!
Administration’s FY 2011 Budget Proposal Demonstrates Balanced Approach to Drug Control
The Fiscal Year 2011 National Drug Control Budget proposed by the Obama Administration would devote significant new resources to the prevention and treatment of drug abuse, National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske said today….
He did it! Wonderful. Finally, a real shift in national priorities over the drug policy budget. I can’t wait to compare… dig into the numbers, create a chart and….
They even break it down into supply side and demand side budgets just to show how inept they are in putting together a “balanced” budget.
Every public policy expert will tell you that supply side drug war funding is, well, more of a waste of money than demand side. And even back in Walters’ day, he used to talk about how treatment is more cost-effective than enforcement. Kerlikowske upped the ante on that in every speech, and yet, the budgets are virtually indistinguishable. Except, of course, that in 2011, the drug war budget actually increases. [Note, also, that some years back they decided to eliminate the cost of prosecuting and incarcerating federal drug war prisoners from the tracked cost of drug policy in a blatant effort to make the treatment side look better in comparison.]
So why is there no real change?
Because there are so many entrenched interests in law enforcement, well organized interests with lobbyists and guns, that nothing can ever be cut. The only question when this bill reaches Congress is how much they try to increase the law enforcement/supply side numbers.
More on the drug policy budget:
- Raw Story: Obama grows the drug war, with enforcement the clear priority
- Opposing Views: Obama’s New Budget Would Increase Spending for War on Drugs
- Leap: A “Balanced Approach” to Drug Control?