Reprehensible - By David Pratt
The budget for the next fiscal year has been unveiled by the President. Setting a record for the largest ever at $4.75 trillion, the bloated debt-exploding bill calls for a 10% reduction in the Department of Education, a 5% increase in military spending, and over $8B to finance construction of a border wall along the southern border while simultaneously pulling over a trillion dollars away from health care.
The numbers are, to many, hardly a surprise and the budget itself is an immediate bust. Even when Congress was completely beholden to the President prior to the Republican party’s spectacular defeat in the 2018 midterms, he would have had a hard time pushing such numbers through for approval. They still serve, however, to illustrate the overt moral bankruptcy currently ensconced in the White House. While there is no shortage of questionable decisions – such as attempting to revive the idea of granting states lump sums to spend on health care, thus effectively capping Medicaid at rates that could never keep up with costs – let us briefly focus on that $8B price tag on the infamous border wall.
It is reprehensible on a legal level to think that there exists authority to build this border wall. Despite spending two years in control of every single lever of government, the very idea of such a construct was so terrible that President Trump was unable to secure the funding he needed. When Democrats took control of the House, he instituted the longest government shutdown in U.S. history in order to secure $5B for his wall, and failed. Now he has decided to use the declaration of a national emergency to justify his leeching funds from other sources. After doing so, he openly stated that there was no real emergency and he was only doing so to expedite the process of funding the wall. This is despite the fact that he has already, several times in the past, had public comments used against him during successful legal challenges to his policies. He not only lacks the justification to declare an emergency, because there is not one in any sense, but no sooner had he done so than he undermined any potential defense his administration might have for doing so.
It is reprehensible on a practical level because every reason ascribed to justify the existence of a wall has been disproven. The majority of illegal immigrants in America are those who enter the country with valid visas that they then overstay, a wall would do nothing to stop that. Drugs enter this country overwhelmingly through ports of entry, a wall would do nothing to help that. Studies of crime rates consistently show that areas with higher concentrations of immigrants are safer than those without. Building the wall would require the government to seize land from private citizens, exercising imminent domain for a purpose it was never envisioned in order to create a construct that would immediately fail in its every stated goal. The immense cost of completing such a structure, one that could be circumvented with a ladder from a hardware store absent the additional cost of round-the-clock, border-wide surveillance, will ultimately far outstrip any projections, placing an enormous burden on taxpayers.
Finally, it is morally reprehensible that a President would be so determined to appease the anti-immigration component of his base, which is to simply say his base, that he would propose a budget asking $8B for a border wall, while simultaneously stripping $7.5B from funding for education. Additional funding was, and likely still is, expected to be drawn from money that was previously set aside for disaster relief in California and Puerto Rico. This massive, ineffective, unwanted vanity project that exists solely to create a talking point and will negatively affect millions of people and the entire U.S. economy if it ever comes to be would first be built at the expense of American children’s futures and the perpetuation of suffering of U.S. citizens.
In a budget that proposes expanding military spending yet again on the back of a 30% decrease in funding for the EPA and a 70% reduction in renewable energy research, it is hard to single out one thing that illustrates how disastrous this administration’s goals are to the country. The border wall, however, with its near-constant part in the national conversation, brought up again just weeks after the President cost the nation more than he was asking for in the first place by shutting down the government for 33 days, does a fairly good job of it. At this point it is hard to imagine that the project will ever actually become reality, but that is part of the goal – to keep pushing the idea that the people who want open borders and to flood the country with illegal immigration are standing up against this noble solution. Much like actually winning the Presidency, Trump getting what he wants would be the worst case scenario, because then once it comes to pass, like his Presidency, it will be impossible to conceal the fact that none of what is being promised is even remotely possible, and we will have sold our nation’s future down the oil-spill filled river to get it.