Where are all the Pesos?

 

Who’s gonna pay for The Wall?

Throughout his campaign and continuing into his incumbency, President Trump has been telling his core supporters that he’s going to build a “Great Wall” across our southern border. Almost as often as he mentioned The Wall, Mr. Trump told us that Mexico was going to pay for it. Here’s a medley of his greatest hits.

 
So where are the Pesos?

Why are we being asked to pay for The Wall? [1]  Surely, President Trump didn’t lie to his true believers. Surely, he wouldn’t make a promise he never meant to keep. would he? Can I interest you in a nice bridge in Brooklyn?

Now and then, Trump or one of his lackeys tries some verbal sleight of hand to “prove” that the “Mexico is paying for The Wall”:

  • We’ll recover the money in trade because the United States, Mexico, Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA) is so much better than the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) it replaces. Sounds good except for two things … Congress has yet to approve the new agreement … and, its provisions wouldn’t pay for The Wall anyway.
     
  • By keeping illicit drugs out of the country, we’ll save so much on law enforcement, Drug Tunnels 200addiction therapy, etc. that we’ll pay for The Wall many times over. The problem with this idea is that … according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection Enforcement most smuggled drugs cross at ports of entry. In order to bring their drugs into the United States without detection, Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán‘s Sinaloa Cartel has built elaborate lighted and air conditioned tunnels under the border. The Wall would do nothing to stop either approach. [2]
     
  • Gang members, other violent criminals, and terrorists are infiltrating the the “caravans” of immigrants. The Wall will stop them and bring huge savings in law enforcement … not to mention U.S. lives … to cities all over the country. Although limited, most of available data implies that immigrants … whether they are here legally or not tend to be equally or more law-abiding than native-born citizens. Even the President’s favorite “invading gang”, MS-13, started not in Central America, but in Los Angeles. The gang is a U.S. export. As for terrorists, there is no evidence that any are embedded in the immigrant caravans. Why would they suffer through such a grueling ordeal when they can travel comfortably as visitors, students, business people, etc. [3]

With no pesos coming any time soon (i.e., never), the President asked Congress for $5.7 billion for The Wall.Building Bollard Fencing 200 When they they passed the budget bill with only $1.375 billion for the construction of new bollard fencing, President Trump decided to use the National Emergencies Act to try to build a fund of a bit over $8 billion by adding other budgeted sources … like the Department of Defense funding for military construction and counter-drug activities … to the $1.375 billion allotted by Congress.

When is a National Emergency not a National Emergency?

President Trump has declared that a southern border without The Wall is a National Emergency. Let’s examine the meaning of the word “emergency”:

From Merriam-Webster
  1. an unforeseen combination of circumstances or the resulting state that calls for immediate action
  2. an urgent need for assistance or relief
From the Oxford English Dictionary

A serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation requiring immediate action

From Dictionary.com
  1. a sudden, urgent, usually unexpected occurrence or occasion requiring immediate action
  2. a state, especially of need for help or relief, created by some unexpected event
From the Cambridge Dictionary

a dangerous or serious situation, such as an accident, that happens suddenly or unexpectedly and needs immediate action

From  the Collins Dictionary

An emergency is an unexpected and difficult or dangerous situation, especially an accident, that happens suddenly and that requires quick action to deal with it.

… and, of course, if you want a more in-depth discussion of the word, follow this link for the definition of emergency in Wikipedia.

Here are some extracts [4]  from and commentary on President Trump’s rambling February 15, 2019 announcement taken from “Deadline: White House” hosted by Nicolle Wallace.

If he could “do The Wall over a longer period of time” and “didn’t have to do this”, is it really an emergency? When is a National Emergency not a National Emergency? Perhaps, when the President says it isn’t.

Can this abuse be stopped?

Almost all Democrats and Independents … and several Republicans … in Congress believe this is not a valid application of the National Emergency Act. Many U.S. residents believe that the only real emergency at our southern border is the humanitarian emergency created by the harsh policies of the Trump Administration.

Sixteen states … including the border states of California and New Mexico … have taken the Trump Administration to court. Their lawsuit is based on both Constitutional grounds and the fact that the Administration is planning to take funding earmarked for projects in their state. There’s a good chance that the case will wind its way to the Supreme Court. President Trump seems to believe that’s where he’ll win, but he could be proved wrong. The Supreme Court is decidedly conservative and the Constitutional component of the lawsuit focuses on the balance of power between the Congress, the President, and the Courts. If the Court gives Legislative power to the President, might he not come for Judicial power next?

The National Emergency Act provides Congress with a way to end a declaration of National Emergency that they deem invalid.Toads 06 200 They can pass a Joint Resolution of Disapproval and send it to the President for his signature or veto. One assumes that President Trump would veto the resolution … if he has the will to do so. He is, after all, a bully and bullies often back down if confronted. If he does work up the courage to veto it, will Congress be able to get the 2/3 majority in each house needed to override the veto … or are there too many Congressional toadies still clinging to the President to stop even this abuse of power.

Update

Within an hour after publishing this article, I learned that El Paso County, Texas has filed a lawsuit against the Trump Administration’s National Emergency declaration. This is not the liberal 9th Circuit Court that the President is so fond of mocking. It is the more conservative 5th Circuit Court.
 

What if the President wins?

Article I, Section 9, Clause 7 of the Constitution of the United States says:

No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.

It is Congress; not the President who decides how the Federal Government shall spend (our) money. If President Trump is allowed to circumvent the will of Congress and use funding for purposes other than those for which they were appropriated, the floodgates will be opened for all future Presidents to do the same. Sooner or later, we will have a Progressive or Liberal President.[5]  What will Congress do when that President calls a National Emergency based on Climate Change … or Gun Control … or Health Care? What will they be able to do? If the precedent exists, not much.

Hang on tight, folks. It’s likely to be a wild ride.

Wild Ride 01 400

 
 

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End Notes
  1. I suppose that a small number of Trump’s supporterstrump sign pro-guns1 200 are so ignorant (or stupid) that they don’t understand where the Federal Government gets the money it spends … like this guy on the right … or those who hear the President’s campaign slogan as “Make America White Again!” (Hint for those U.S. Residents who are “English Challenged” like the guy in the picture, the Second Commandment says nothing about guns. It’s in the Bible; not the Constitution. The Constitution has Amendments.)
    The Wealthy and the hypoChristians 150Others … like the President’s wealthy contributors who are in it for the tax breaks and freedom from regulations or the hypo-Christians who want to force their religious beliefs on everybody else … don’t care what he does with our money as long as they get what they want.
     
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  2. Maybe President Trump should hire “El Chapo’s” construction crews to build The Wall. They have the experience and probably work cheap.
     
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  3. Some terrorists … including some of the 9/11 perpetrators … come to the U.S. from Canada. Trump is worrying about the wrong border.
     
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  4. If you want to hear President Trump’s whole speech and the informal press conference that followed, here it is:
     
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  5. In 230 years, we have elected a President from the same party as the preceding President only 40.91% of the time. Only 38.64% of our Presidents have served for more than 4 consecutive years. (Democratic President Grover Cleveland served for two terms, but they were not consecutive. The McKinley Tariff enacted during the term of Republican President Benjamin Harrison made Harrison so unpopular that Cleveland beat him the next time they opposed each other.)
     
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