As the longest government shutdown in American history rages on, it’s becoming clearer that Democrats refuse to compromise is what’s prolonging it. As Kayleigh McEnany pointed out, it was only five years ago that 54 Senate Democrats voted in favor of doubling a portion of a southern barrier with Mexico, ending chain migration, ending the diversity visa lottery, and spending $40 billion on border security (seven times the $5.7 billion Trump is currently asking for, and roughly double the money needed to build a complete border wall).
To end the shutdown, in exchange for a 3-year extension for DACA recipients Trump is demanding:
- $805 million for drug detection technology
- 2,750 new border agents
- 75 new immigration judge teams to help with a 900,000 case backlog
- $5.7 billion for “strategic deployment of physical barriers, or, a wall”
The three-year extension on DACA appears to be Trump offering Democrats a bet on the 2020 presidential election, as Democrats will only be able to offer DACA recipients anything in three years if they hold the Presidency.
While Democrats have had no problem voting for border security in the past, that’s changed in the Trump era. The only exception came last year when the “walls don’t work” crowd voted in favor of an Omnibus bill that included funding for border security towards Jordan’s wall (to protect against ISIS), but I suppose nobody actually bothered to read the bill regardless.
Democrats could end the shutdown anytime they want, but in the meantime, they’ve already cost the country more than Trump is currently demanding towards the wall.
The Cost of the Shutdown vs. the Cost of the Wall
According to a forecast by Moody’s Analytics economist Mark Zandi, the government shutdown will cost the economy $8.7 billion if it lasts until the end of January. That estimate is based on accounting for lost wages (which have to be paid back to federal employees that aren’t working for them), productivity and impact on the economy at large. In other words, the Democrats inability to compromise has thus cost the U.S. economy more than the $5.7 billion Trump has requested towards the wall (which would save money in the long run by reducing illegal immigration).
Out of our $20+ trillion economy, $8.7 billion is simply a drop in the bucket, hence why this shutdown has likely had no noticeable impact on your life unless you’ve needed to catch a flight. And similarly, the border wall costs pennies in the context of the federal budget overall. Of our current $4.4 trillion annual federal budget, Trump is requesting what would amount to 0.11% of the total budget.
Even if Trump were to demand funding to construct an entire border wall, roughly $15-25 billion depending on what estimate you trust, it would only account for roughly two days of federal government spending (and as already mentioned, save money in the long run).
In the grand scheme of things, this current shutdown is over Trump asking for pennies, and Democrats were happy funding seven times as much border security when Trump’s name wasn’t’ attached to it. If there’s anyone to blame for the prolonged shutdown, it ain’t Trump.