The Transylvania Times -

The Budget As A Hostage


July 13, 2017

Monday afternoon Congressman Mark Meadows’ stated that he would lead an effort to shut down the federal government if funding for building a wall on the southwest U.S. border is not included in an upcoming appropriations bill.

“My conversations with the president have led me to believe that there is nothing less than a full and total commitment on his part to only sign into law a funding bill that actually allows for us to start construction of a border wall on our southern border. He’s committed to do that. We’re committed to supporting him in that position,” said Meadows in a press release.

Meadows said one reason the wall must be funded is to help President Trump fulfill a campaign promise. But that is only partly true. On Sept. 1, 2016, then candidate Trump tweeted “Mexico will pay for the wall!” He repeated that statement throughout his campaign. Now he and Meadows are asking American taxpayers to foot the bill, which the Department of Homeland Security has estimated would cost at least $21.6 billion. The Trump administration has suggested Mexico would pay for the wall by increasing tariffs on Mexican products sold in the U.S. But the cost of those tariffs would just be passed on to American consumers.

Meadows said the other reason to insist the wall be built is to increase national security. That too is a misleading argument. Walls slow people down; they do not necessarily stop them. Walls work better in urban areas, such as Berlin. They are less effective in desolate areas where border patrol agents have a greater distance to cover. As Marc Rosenblum, deputy director of the U.S. Immigration Policy Program at the Migration Policy Institute, told CNBC, “There is a reason people don’t build fences in the middle of nowhere; it doesn’t change the enforcement profile in the middle of nowhere.”

And not all of this wall will actually be a wall; significant stretches will be fences, which are far easier to surmount.

Even supporters of a wall recognize its severe limitations. Department of Homeland Security chief John Kelly testified that a “physical barrier will not do the job…If you build a wall, you would still have to back that wall up with patrolling by human beings, by sensors, by observation devices.”

The wall also will not stop undocumented immigrants from entering the country. About 40 percent of undocumented immigrants enter the country legally with visas but stay beyond the date of their visa.

As for terrorists, since Sept. 11, 2001, more than 80 percent of individuals who have been charged with or died while being involved in terrorist activities in the U.S. have been U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

In essence, a costly wall along the southern border paid for by Americans can be circumvented by those wishing to inflict serious harm on Americans.

Possibly more troubling than wasting billions on a border wall is the juvenile concept of holding the federal budget hostage. Government is about compromise, even when one political party is in control.

No one person or group is going to get everything they want. Government would cease to function if every member of Congress voted against the budget because of one item.

Contrary to the president and some of his supporters, shutting down the government is not beneficial. Not only does it deny the public services it needs, but it also harms the economy.

During the last government shutdown in October of 2013, many civilians, such as those who work at military bases like Fort Bragg, were furloughed. But they were not the only ones affected.

Tourism in this region took a significant hit. October is one of the busiest months for tourism. According to Steve Morse of WCU’s Hospitality and Tourism Program, Western North Carolina lost nearly $1 million per day in tourism spending and $50,000 per day in state taxes. And those figures are low because they were based primarily on tourism in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and nearby counties. Locally, residents may recall facilities, such as the Pisgah Inn, being closed.

To hold the federal budget hostage to the construction of a southern border wall – a wall that will not significantly improve our national security and drain billions of dollars from other areas – is a bad idea.


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