Email #139: “ridiculous”?

Next Saturday is a huge day. It’s the deadline for Congress to avoid a government shutdown, and it marks President Trump’s 100th day in office. The two dates coincide because the Trump administration asked for a delay on passing a 2017 spending bill—even though the 2017 fiscal year officially began October 1. The President seems to be asking for an extension on his first 100 days too, now calling it a “ridiculous standard,” even though his campaign promoted the idea with a “contract” listing all the accomplishments he promised by April 29th.

The President’s most repeated and most popular campaign promise was to build a “Great Wall.” His “100-day action plan to Make America Great Again” called for an Act that “Fully-funds the construction of a wall on our southern border with the full understanding that the country of Mexico will be reimbursing the United States for the full cost of such wall.” Even polls in January showed only 19% of Americans believed him, but according to him: “The dishonest media does not report that any money spent on building the Great Wall (for sake of speed), will be paid back by Mexico later!” Even Senate leader McConnell contradicted that claim.

The President also claimed it would cost far less than the widely estimated $25 million: “I am reading that the great border WALL will cost more than the government originally thought, but I have not gotten involved in the design or negotiations yet. When I do, price will come WAY DOWN!” But General Kelly, President’s choice to lead the Department of Homeland Security, says it will actually cost way more: “A physical barrier, in and of itself, will not do the job. If you were to build a wall from the pacific to the Gulf of Mexico, you’d still have to back that wall up with patrolling by human beings, by sensors, observation devices.” That means that cost isn’t just construction. A wall would also require additional sensors, cameras, and patrollers, which, on top of maintenance, would add continuing annual costs too.

I fear the President is so desperate for the appearance of accomplishment that Congress will use the budget deadline to try to push through a rushed and ill-advised spending bill that includes wall construction. That attempt will shut the government down as the GOP shut it down in 2013 and twice in 1996. Those times Congress had Clinton or Obama in the White House to rally against. This time Republicans control every branch of government, making it impossible to blame Democrats for another unpopular shutdown.

Other deficit hawks have signaled they will not support adding deficit-deepening wall construction in the next appropriations bill. You, however, said in January that you support the President’s “Great Wall” plan. If you still do, I hope you recognize how “ridiculous” it would be to attempt to enact it this of all weeks.

Please vote to maintain current spending levels in the continuing resolution that Congress must pass by Saturday.

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Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an assistant professor of English at Washington and Lee University where he teaches creative writing, contemporary fiction, and comics. He has published two novels, Pretend I'm Not Here (HarperCollins 2002) and School For Tricksters (Southern Methodist University 2011), and two nonfictions, On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa University 2015) and Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury forthcoming 2017).

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