At the present time, probably the most controversial item under discussion is the proposed southern border wall. Simply put, President Trump and his supporters want it; the Dems and some GOPers are opposed. Neither side has shown any willingness to compromise even though they could do so if they really wanted to. Both sides are dug in, and the intransigence has caused a government shut-down, which is likely to last at least until the New Year. In my opinion, this stalemate is politically-motivated. As the song goes: “It’s all about the base.”
I have written several blogs analyzing the reasons for the Dems’ strong opposition to even a modicum of funding for a wall, and there is no need for me to rehash it now. But, I do find the fervent opposition among many of the leading Dems to be puzzling and even illogical. Perhaps, Mr. Trump is correct when he speculates that they are only against it because he is for it.
What do I mean? Perhaps, a little history will be illuminating. The construction of a physical barrier along the southern border can be traced to 1990. At that time, we built 14 miles of fencing between San Diego and Tijuana. Then, in 2006 funding for a “fence” sailed through Congress with strong bipartisan support. The Senate passed the bill 80-19 with Senators Obama, Clinton and Schumer, for example, all voting “yea.”
In addition to a fence, the law provided for other security enhancements such as vehicle barriers, checkpoints, cameras, satellites and drones. To be sure, the effectiveness of this law has been mixed. A 2017 GAO report described the various methods by which the fence was routinely being defeated, such as by driving vehicles over ramps, tunneling under the wall, and even tossing drugs over it to accomplices waiting on the other side. One can cite this either as evidence that “walls don’t work” or that it demonstrates the need for a better, more secure wall, buttressed by modern technology, rather than a mere “fence.” Take your pick. I should point out, however, that Mr. Trump has been advocating a significantly higher and more substantial wall supplemented by more modern technology.
One of the major issues that carried Mr. Trump to the White House in 2016 was his pledge to construct a wall on the southern border. I believe he has accomplished a great deal in just two years, however, his inability to secure funding for the wall is a big disappointment. This is particularly true given his reputation as a dealmaker and the fact that the GOP has controlled both houses of Congress for the past two years. With the Dems slated to take control of the House next week the likelihood of a wall is dwindling rapidly. Too bad.
All this over a few billion dollars, which is a mere drop in the bucket compared to our deficit of $21.8 TRILLION. This stalemate is like a tantrum between two children. No one looks good. Who will be the adult in the room? Maybe, if Mr. Trump called it a “barrier” or “enhanced fence” instead of a “wall” it might get funded.
Some have speculated (gleefully) that this failure may result in Mr. Trump’s defeat in 2020. I think that in a business where even a few months can be a lifetime, such speculation is very premature. November 2020 is a very long way off, and a lot will happen between now and then. That said, I believe it will be a black mark on his record.