Senate Democrats have shown their willingness to shut down the government in lieu of spending nearly $6 billion on a border wall, but compare that price tag to some of the other expenditures the government funds.
House Republicans passed a stopgap funding bill on Thursday that included $5.7 billion to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. However, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer vowed to kill any funding measure appropriating for a wall’s construction.
Schumer has referred to the wall as “expensive and ineffective,” but just how expensive is it relative to recent expenditures?
The Environmental and Protection Agency was appropriated a $5.7 billion budget in 2018, down from the roughly $8 billion annual budget it has received since the mid-1990s. Inline with the agency’s mission statement, nearly 90 percent of the budget is used to provide grants safeguarding clear air, land and water, according to National Geographic.
A Government Accountability Office report uncovered that while the EPA’s budget has been remaining relatively stable, the amount of employees on the public relations staff has been spiking. In less than a decade, the agency increased its public relations staff by 16 percent with more than 140 employees dedicated to pushing the EPA’s message.
In 2017, the federal government spent more than twice as much on farms as the requested border wall funding. During the fiscal year, U.S. farms received $13.2 billion in subsidies, according to transparency group Open The Books. Nearly 15 percent of those subsidies went to farmers in exchange for not using their land.
The government also footed the bill for nearly half of the country’s most expensive infrastructure project, which was concentrated in one city alone. After the ‘Big Dig’, a megaproject that rerouted Boston’s primary thoroughfare, was plagued by financial mismanagement and design flaws, the Federal Highway Administration stepped in and provided what amounted to about $7 billion in grants, reported The Boston Globe.
The project was completed in 2010 with a total ticket price of $15 billion.
And while the federal government has spent billions of dollars on one city’s project, it has also spent billions of dollars on individual companies.
According to a 2014 Special Inspector General report, American taxpayers took an $11.2 billion loss on its bailout of General Motors (GM). After the automaker declared bankruptcy in 2009, the government invested $49.5 billion in the company with a 61 percent equity share. Overtime, GM’s stock price dropped, and despite selling back shares, the U.S. government took billion dollar losses.
While a 2017 internal report from the Department of Homeland Security forecasts that a wall would ultimately cost approximately $21.6 billion to complete, the Federation For American Immigration Reform estimates that the fiscal burden of illegal immigration on the American taxpayers is approximately $115.8 billion annually.
“We would save Billions of Dollars if the Democrats would give us the votes to build the Wall,” Trump tweeted in early December. “Either way, people will NOT be allowed into our Country illegally! We will close the entire Southern Border if necessary. Also, STOP THE DRUGS!”
The Senate is scheduled to reconvene on Dec. 27 to resume appropriations discussions.
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