By Jordan Candler
The battle royale regarding border-wall funding continues to prolong the partial government shutdown. As The Washington Post reported Monday, “Trump and lawmakers paralyzed over shutdown as both sides remain dug in.” With both Democrats and Republicans remaining steadfast up to this point, there’s really no way of knowing when the historic shutdown will come to an end.
Yet the reason is completely ridiculous. The money that Trump is seeking to allocate for the border wall is, relatively speaking, chump change. For perspective, Marc A. Thiessen writes, “In 2019, the federal government will spend a whopping $4.407 trillion. Yet Congress and the president are shutting down the government in a dispute between the $1.3 billion the Democrats have approved for border security and the $5.7 billion the president is demanding — precisely 0.0998 percent of the total federal budget. In Washington, that is considered a rounding error.” No wonder he says this constitutes “the stupidest government shutdown in American history.”
Suffice it to say, spending is DC’s modus operandi. Which means the complaints about funding the relatively cheap wall are simply political grandstanding. Consider some of these examples for context:
Conservative pundit Liz Wheeler reminded us this week that the horribly designed ObamaCare website cost taxpayers about $2.1 billion — yet the Left “didn’t think that was ‘too expensive.’” Amazingly, Democrats were willing to spend roughly 37% of what Trump’s wall would cost … on a website.
According to The Daily Caller, “[Chuck] Schumer … in early December asked Trump to support 'permanent tax incentives for domestic production of clean electricity and storage, energy efficient homes and commercial buildings, electric vehicles, and modernizing the electric grid.‘ … Extending tax subsidy provisions primarily benefiting wind and solar power would cost nearly $32 billion over the next four years, according to Joint Committee on Taxation estimates. Permanently extending these tax subsidies could add billions more to the tab. The committee estimates solar and wind tax subsidies will cost more than $7 billion in 2019.” That’s more than enough money to cover the cost of the border wall — and then some.
Likewise, the border wall could easily be covered via a decision from last May in which Trump moved “to rescind $15 billion in unspent money from previous years, including $7 billion from CHIP. ”
In 2014, NPR reported, “Government estimates suggest there may be 77,000 empty or underutilized buildings across the country. Taxpayers own them, and even vacant, they’re expensive. The Office of Management and Budget says these buildings could be costing taxpayers $1.7 billion a year.” These vacant buildings cost about 30% of what Trump’s wall would cost every year.
In 2015, National Review revealed, “The GAO reports that five federal agencies alone spent $3.1 billion on workers placed on administrative leave in a two-year timespan. A lot of that cash — $775 million, to be exact — went to public employees banned from their desks for more than a month.” These undeserved salaries could significantly help offset the cost of the border wall.
The unelected former First Lady Michelle Obama instituted school lunch standards that imposed $1.2 billion in compliance costs. Not only was it emblematic of the nanny state, but the scheme failed.
In 2016, The Patriot Post reported, “During the 2015 fiscal year, the U.S. government improperly paid out $136 billion, according to a Government Accountability Office report. … But it’s not the whole picture. The government doesn’t have to report improper payouts under a 1.5% error rate, and the GAO didn’t have access to the Pentagon’s budget. Still, with the data it did have, the GAO determined the government pays out money incorrectly 4.8% of the time.” At $136 billion, Trump’s border wall could be built 28 times.
Taxpayers shell out approximately $500 million annually to subsidize abortion via Planned Parenthood. Simply by ending these abortion subsidies, the government could provide a hefty down payment for the border wall.
This isn’t even the tip of the iceberg. Whether it’s spending $387,000 on massages for rabbits or $856,000 educating mountain lions on how to operate a treadmill (not a joke), the government funds countless frivolous endeavors that add up to billions of dollars in waste.
Moreover, this money has nothing to do with national security, which the Constitution says is one of the government’s few obligations. Democrats can oppose the wall on ideological grounds. But they can’t in good conscious claim to be concerned about what it might cost. Otherwise they’d also be aghast at what illegal immigration cost us every year — upwards of $296 billion.