Earlier this week the Defense Department said it would take $3.6-billion from 127 other military projects and redirect it to Trump’s wall. But they wouldn’t specify where from until they notified Members of Congress with affected projects in their districts and embassies with affected projects in their countries. Now they have.
And surprise, surprise…A big chunk of it’s coming from areas that are among the President’s biggest pet peeves: namely Puerto Rico and NATO-related operations in Europe. (Mostly funding that’s mean to rebuild or expand the capabilities of U.S. bases there, not direct aid). But some of it’s also coming from areas Trump claims are his (and his daughter Ivanka’s) pet projects: day care and schools for military families are also going to be broadly cut back. And in Arizona, some money’s getting pulled from infrastructure central to one military base, shifted to building a wall along the edge of another military base that sits along the border.
But hang on a sec: taking money away from any project the U.S. military says it needs, and Congress (even Democrats!) have already agreed that it needs, can only mean one of two things:
- An admission that spending by the military is at least partially unnecessary, if not wasteful…
- Trump’s willing to put U.S. troops in harm’s way in order to get his way. Even though Congress—which is the branch of government tasked with saying who gets money for what—didn’t view it with the same level of urgency, and wouldn’t give it to him. (And that was true even when Republicans had control of both the House and Senate). So instead the President declared not having a wall a “National Emergency“, and used emergency powers to just grab it. The Supreme Court (at least for now), is backing him up on this.
Of course, the Pentagon and White House are trying to portray this all a little bit differently: they say the projects they’re taking away money from are not actually being cancelled, and are essential. And all it’ll take to keep them going is Congress “backfilling” the funds. That refers to allocating new money to retroactively pay for already approved projects. And if Congress doesn’t? Well then that’ll be the Democrats’ fault. According to them.
We see multiple problems with that:
- Even though we’re sure the President’s going to give it a full-court press, we think it’s going to be a hard sell, even for someone as masterful at messaging as Trump.
- It’ll add to the already skyrocketing federal budget deficit.
- And anyway, why would they? (And by “they” we mean Democrats). Why would they agree to fund something they already gave money for before? If for no other reason than how can they trust Trump won’t just take that new money and use it for his wall too?
Trump incessantly insists a wall is necessary to protect the American public from drugs and gangs and bad hombres. To which we always like to point out that if Trump or his folks were willing to compromise on immigration at all, Democrats on more than one occasion were willing to give Trump almost everything he’s been demanding. Including funding for his wall. The catch? Trump would’ve had to give a little on the status of some undocumented immigrants already in the country and expand (instead of contract) refugee programs. Trump says he wants compromise, but that form of compromise seems to consist of giving in to every single thing he and his people want, without giving anything in return. Otherwise, it would’ve (or at least could’ve) been done.