As I write this early Friday morning, it’s become a fait accompli that the government will partially shut down a few hours after the sun sets over this beautiful land unless President Donald Trump gets funding for his wall. Disquiet has yet to overtake me for a few reasons.
For starters, a government shutdown — particularly a partial one — is something akin to a Keith Richards stint in rehab. The basic problem is profoundly unlikely to be addressed; Mr. Richards will continue to shovel white powders covered under Schedules I or II of the Controlled Substances act up his nose, even if there is a brief lacuna in his process.
As for the federal government, they will continue to shovel taxpayer money after stuff we don’t need despite a brief lacuna in some minor services. The best thing I can report to you, dear reader, is that some 50,000 IRS agents will be furloughed when the deed goes down. If the Democrats want to get out of this without giving into wall funding, furlough a few hundred thousand more and make it permanent. I can think of plenty of Americans who would never talk about the wall again were that to happen.
However, that being an unlikely solution, I bring you to the second reason: Walls work. Walls save American taxpayers money. Walls make us more secure. And if you don’t believe me, Benjamin Netanyahu would like to have a word.
“President Trump said Thursday that, with debate raging in the United States over a southern border wall, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week offered him unprompted assurances that walls work, saying Israel’s barrier on the West Bank is all but impenetrable,” the Washington Examiner reported Thursday.
“Essential to border security is a powerful, physical barrier. Walls work, whether we like it or not. They work better than everything,” the president said during a farm bill signing.
“In Israel — 99.9 percent successful. Think of it. I spoke to Benjamin Netanyahu, prime minister, two days ago. We were talking about it.”
The message was clear, particularly coming one day before a proposed government shutdown: The $5 billion Trump is asking for, the implication is, would be a good start toward making as secure as Israel.
The likelihood of that happening before Friday is wholly unlikely. A House budget which included funding for the wall passed by a margin of 217-185 on Thursday.
However, a Senate bill didn’t include money for the wall, obviously triggering a veto from the president. The House bill, meanwhile, would die in the Senate due to a filibuster — and that’s assuming Trump is even willing to sign it.
“After a last-minute meeting at the White House earlier Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., told reporters Trump would not sign the spending bill in its current form, as the president had ‘legitimate concerns’ about border security,” the Examiner reported.
“The House is now gearing up to vote on a spending measure that includes the $5 billion for the border wall, as well as $8.7 billion for states impacted by hurricanes and wildfires,” they added. “It’s unclear whether the legislation will pass the GOP-controlled House.”
As for the wall in Israel, the border addresses many of the concerns Trump has had. The Israeli government is even speeding up the construction of an underground wall as a hedge against the possibility of tunnels that would bypass the wall, according to NPR.
Whether or not Israel is a proper analog for the situation at the Southern border and the attendant political problems it faces, it’s clear that our government is about to head to a very difficult showdown — and Trump seems to be “proud” to push for an Israeli-style wall, even if it means that the government will be shuttering a modicum of services for the foreseeable future.
“This is not merely my campaign promise. This is the promise every lawmaker made,” Trump said Thursday.
“It’s the solemn promise to protect and defend the United States of America, and it is our sacred obligation. We have no choice.”
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