GOP senator: National emergency won't get wall built

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) warned on that if President Donald Trump declares a national emergency on the southern border in order to fund the construction of a border wall, the move is "going to go to court and the wall won't get built."

Posted: Jan 14, 2019 9:15 AM
Updated: Jan 14, 2019 9:42 AM

President Donald Trump has not been able to persuade Congress that US national security requires the building of a wall at our southern border. If, however, a national emergency really exists, as the President insists, then he should take his case directly to the American people and look to other ways to pay for a wall -- ways that do not require the use of pre-existing taxpayer dollars.

Our suggestion is that the President propose issuing "wall bonds," or government-issued debt securities, to fund the wall. After all, the best measure of support for a government program is whether the public is willing to pay for the program.

The idea of selling government bonds to fund a government program is not new. In the first half of the 20th century, presidents were able to rally the public to pay for national emergency programs. During World War I and World War II, President Woodrow Wilson and President Franklin Roosevelt each undertook massive initiatives to raise the money that was needed to mobilize the troops through the issuance of bonds and imposition of higher taxes.

President Wilson's Secretary of the Treasury, William McAdoo, sold "Liberty Loans." And under President Roosevelt, Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau launched a major campaign to sell war bonds and to persuade voters that higher taxes were necessary. "Taxes to Beat the Axis," Treasury said.

Millions of Americans bought war bonds during both campaigns, with many convinced by the Presidents that the mission was worthwhile. "Save to Win" read the cover of a $25 war bond that low-income Americans could invest in by purchasing 25 cent stamps. And "The Treasury Star Parade," the Treasury's variety show, employed musical stars to promote war bonds.

Trump has never asked his supporters to sacrifice anything to build a wall. Instead, during the campaign, he promised that Mexico would pay for the wall, even though the Mexican government stated clearly that it had no such intention. In December, Trump claimed that the wall somehow would pay for itself through indirect savings, as a result of the yet-to-be-ratified new trade agreement with Mexico and Canada. No data is available to support his claim.

Recently, an Iraq War veteran named Brian Kolfage launched a fundraiser through GoFundMe to raise $1 billion for the wall. However, because he has been unable to secure the funds (he only raised about $20 million), he announced that he will return the monies raised. Kolfage has since launched We Build the Wall, Inc., a section 501(c)(4) organization, a type of non-profit, to accept donations to build a wall privately. (Of course, without the power of eminent domain, it is unclear how such a project could succeed.)

Meanwhile, just this month Trump raised the idea of declaring a national emergency so that he can use his executive powers to take funds appropriated for other programs, like natural disasters, to pay for the wall. In the meantime, the President has shut down parts of the federal government.

If Trump sincerely believes that we face a national emergency at the southern border, he should take a lesson from the history books and employ the wartime bond model. Of course, he needs to start by making a more convincing case that an actual emergency exists -- a dubious claim in the minds of most experts. According to the latest CNN poll, 56% of voters oppose the wall, with only 39% supporting the idea.

Floating the idea of wall bonds would allow the President to see how much support truly exists to build a border wall paid for by Americans. History has shown that when the public believes a national emergency exists, they are willing to step up to the plate.

In short, Trump should stop holding the federal government hostage over the building of a wall. Instead, he should reopen the government while simultaneously launching a wall bonds campaign to find the money that he is looking for.

If the public agrees, the President will get the funding that he wants. It the public doesn't buy in, he should concede that it is time to move on to a different approach to border security. No matter what, the President and Congress need to negotiate a comprehensive immigration reform program that finds broad support with the American public and that includes border protection, a DACA solution and a path to citizenship.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 313166

Reported Deaths: 7228
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21496257
Hinds20294414
Harrison17814309
Rankin13573278
Jackson13411246
Madison10066217
Lee9962173
Jones8364163
Forrest7649152
Lauderdale7181240
Lowndes6370145
Lamar621686
Lafayette6171118
Washington5323133
Bolivar4797132
Oktibbeha461498
Panola4561105
Pearl River4499145
Marshall4397103
Warren4380121
Pontotoc419572
Monroe4100133
Union409076
Neshoba4026176
Lincoln3950110
Hancock377786
Leflore3487125
Sunflower335790
Tate332484
Pike3301105
Scott315373
Alcorn311968
Yazoo310769
Itawamba299477
Copiah296465
Simpson294788
Coahoma294379
Tippah287768
Prentiss279560
Adams269582
Marion268880
Leake266273
Wayne262341
Grenada260386
Covington256381
George246848
Newton246061
Winston226881
Tishomingo225967
Jasper220848
Attala214173
Chickasaw207157
Holmes188673
Clay184754
Stone182033
Tallahatchie178140
Clarke177879
Calhoun170132
Yalobusha163337
Smith162234
Walthall133845
Greene130333
Lawrence128323
Montgomery126742
Noxubee126734
Perry125938
Amite122842
Carroll121728
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis106932
Tunica104826
Claiborne102230
Benton99125
Humphreys96133
Kemper95428
Franklin83623
Quitman80216
Choctaw76118
Wilkinson66930
Jefferson65428
Sharkey50317
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 530325

Reported Deaths: 10966
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson763971520
Mobile40908804
Madison34717503
Tuscaloosa25730452
Montgomery24314588
Shelby23401249
Baldwin21107307
Lee15856171
Calhoun14488314
Morgan14282279
Etowah13819353
Marshall12210223
Houston10557280
Elmore10044205
Limestone9954150
Cullman9649193
St. Clair9644242
Lauderdale9419241
DeKalb8825185
Talladega8214175
Walker7223277
Autauga6918108
Jackson6804112
Blount6651137
Colbert6292134
Coffee5506119
Dale4828111
Russell440638
Chilton4279112
Franklin425582
Covington4118118
Tallapoosa4019152
Escambia393276
Chambers3559123
Dallas3547151
Clarke350861
Marion3113100
Pike310577
Lawrence299898
Winston274072
Bibb260464
Marengo249264
Geneva249077
Pickens234160
Barbour230757
Hale222677
Butler215969
Fayette212062
Henry188744
Cherokee184445
Randolph179941
Monroe177340
Washington167039
Macon158750
Clay156156
Crenshaw152057
Cleburne148741
Lamar141934
Lowndes138653
Wilcox127030
Bullock123041
Conecuh110129
Perry107526
Coosa107128
Sumter104332
Greene92334
Choctaw60424
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