Democrats Can Fund the World, but Not the Wall

There is nothing like a government shutdown to illustrate clearly the priorities of the two opposing sides to the standoff.  On one side is President Trump, keeping a campaign promise to build a wall, to keep crime, sex-trafficking, drugs, and terrorism, not to mention the unfunded burden of illegal aliens, out of America.

On the other side are the Democrats, hell-bent on keeping 25 percent of the government closed for business rather than funding border security, a concept they wholeheartedly supported a decade ago.

Who's winning and who's losing the battle?  If you watch cable news, it's clear that the president is on the ropes, having backed himself into a corner.  Reality sings a different tune.  How did we get here?

Donald Trump, announcing his candidacy for president in June 2015, rode down the escalator at Trump Tower and said, "When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best."  He went on, "They're bringing drugs.  They're bringing crime.  They're rapists.  And some, I assume, are good people."

These were among his first pronouncements that day and have been a constant theme of his rallies and tweets since then – including this tweet from a few days ago.

Democrats were once in favor of border security, too.  Many, including Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, voted for the Secure Fence Act of 2006.  This provided for, "Operational control over the entire international land and maritime borders of the United States."

Now, because it's 2019 and Trump is president, Democrats are conveniently against border security.  This is a common theme of Democrats, frequently for something before they are against it.  Remember John Kerry and the Iraq War?

The current fight is over a mere $5 billion in funding for a wall – or a "fence" if the term "wall" is offensive, but a physical barrier between two nations, controlling who and what traipses from one country to the other.  The federal budget is $4.4 trillion, meaning wall funding represents about a tenth of a percent of the budget, a rounding error.  What else are Nancy Pelosi and colleagues spending money on?  How about foreign aid?

The 2019 federal budget requests nearly $27 billion in foreign aid for economic development, health, humanitarian assistance, peace and security, and other objectives.  This is over half the cost of securing "[t]he entire international land and maritime borders of the United States" something Democrats were keen about in 2006.

The Secure Fence Act of 2006 budgeted $50 billion over 25 years to control America's borders.  Unfortunately, Congress appropriated only $1.4 billion and forgot about the rest.  The foreign aid request above was for one single year.  Two years of the foreign aid budget spent instead on U.S. border security would create the type of physical borders so common in the countries we are generously supporting.

Fund the world, but not America.

It's instructive to compare the current administration to the past one, since the media treat the last administration as the Second Coming and the current administration as the Fourth Reich.

In 2012, Congress appropriated $40 billion in foreign aid, a billion more than what was requested.  In 2013, the amount went up to $43 billion appropriated.  The following year, 2014, $42 billion was appropriated.

Let's look at what was actually spent on foreign aid in Barack Obama's final year of 2016: $31 billion total – more than half of what America needs to insure its own "peace and security."

Countries receiving American taxpayer largess include Pakistan, $687 million, the same country that provided sanctuary to Osama bin Laden.  Seven point two billion dollars went to Afghanistan, with not much to show for it other than its opium products finding their way through our unsecure southern border.

Five hundred seventy million went to Syria, a country where I thought Obama was calling for regime change.  Even China received $20 million.  I thought China was our geopolitical and economic adversary!  A few hundred million each went to most African countries, quickly adding up to the grand total of $31 billion.

This is not to say that all foreign aid is bad, as clearly, it is not.  America is the most generous nation in the world.  Much of our foreign aid is lifesaving. Much of it is also wasted or filling the Swiss bank accounts of foreign thug leaders – or worse, finding its way into the bank accounts of those who appropriated the money from the U.S. Treasury.

How else to explain members of Congress living in multimillion-dollar mansions or having net worths in the tens of millions while earning a congressional salary of under $200,000 per year?

An old proverb says, "Charity begins at home."  Even the Bible reinforces the idea in 1 Timothy 5:8: "Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."

American taxpayers are footing the bill not only for foreign aid, but also for illegal immigration, which costs U.S. taxpayers $115 billion a year.

Then there is the human toll, from Kate Steinle to police officer Ronil Singh.  Or the previously deported illegal alien who viciously raped a woman in New York.  Or another previously deported illegal who raped a child in Philadelphia.

Don't forget illegal drugs.  Heroin and cocaine aren't produced domestically and instead transit our southern border.  How much Chinese fentanyl is arriving through Mexico?

The United States gives about a million dollars a year in aid to Hungary, the same country that was able to fund the construction of "a second fence on the border with Serbia to keep migrants out."

Congress is happy to give money to countries to secure their borders, but House Democrats refuse to spend a dime for the same security measures in their own country.

Shameful, but the shutdown is illustrating Democrat priorities, especially for Pelosi-Schumer Democrats.  Let's have the debate.  Where do taxpayers want their hard-earned money to go?  To foreign countries so they can secure their borders and protect their citizens?  Or should some of that money stay here, providing safety and security for Americans?

Trump will get his wall, either through an eventual budget deal or via the military on the basis of national security.  The shutdown may simply be Trump's way of exposing Democrat priorities, which are not for those they are elected to represent or the constitution they swore to support and defend.

Democrats may believe that the shutdown is a way to insulate themselves against exposure of their real priorities, but the longer the shutdown goes on, the more their insulation melts away.

Brian C Joondeph, M.D., MPS is a Denver-based physician and writer.  Follow him on Facebook,  LinkedIn and Twitter.