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: 149940

Reported Deaths: 3779
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto10097104
Hinds9984199
Harrison7116110
Jackson6360119
Rankin5588103
Lee509195
Madison4799106
Forrest383186
Jones357688
Lauderdale3496147
Lafayette326051
Washington3179107
Lamar291550
Oktibbeha245462
Bolivar241384
Lowndes237364
Panola222350
Neshoba2206118
Marshall217250
Leflore205590
Pontotoc199928
Monroe198177
Sunflower191655
Lincoln190865
Warren176857
Tate169851
Union167325
Copiah164140
Pike162658
Yazoo156039
Scott154829
Itawamba152935
Pearl River152167
Alcorn151328
Coahoma150543
Simpson148353
Prentiss146230
Adams141950
Grenada140945
Leake134944
Holmes130861
George125524
Tippah125230
Covington123439
Winston122224
Hancock121139
Wayne117923
Marion116646
Attala113034
Tishomingo109442
Chickasaw107632
Newton105629
Tallahatchie97027
Clay91327
Clarke90553
Jasper82822
Stone77014
Walthall76928
Calhoun75513
Montgomery74525
Carroll72415
Lawrence71814
Smith71316
Yalobusha71327
Noxubee71017
Perry67026
Tunica61019
Greene60322
Claiborne58616
Jefferson Davis57017
Amite54014
Humphreys53619
Benton49318
Quitman4927
Webster44314
Kemper43618
Wilkinson39822
Jefferson35211
Franklin3395
Choctaw3357
Sharkey30917
Issaquena1164
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 244993

Reported Deaths: 3572
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson32314500
Mobile19859361
Madison13223148
Tuscaloosa13049154
Montgomery12342236
Shelby1031577
Baldwin873398
Lee775766
Morgan662650
Calhoun6301119
Etowah627666
Marshall627255
Houston525638
DeKalb485536
Cullman439442
Limestone425145
St. Clair419555
Lauderdale407854
Elmore406864
Walker3657111
Talladega351454
Jackson320423
Colbert311942
Blount292240
Autauga273542
Franklin252633
Coffee245415
Dale232654
Dallas226232
Chilton223438
Russell22193
Covington218934
Escambia198331
Chambers176850
Tallapoosa176391
Pike158614
Clarke158419
Marion140236
Winston133023
Lawrence127936
Pickens123518
Geneva12218
Marengo121524
Bibb117917
Barbour117310
Butler116541
Randolph102921
Cherokee102224
Hale97031
Clay91924
Fayette91616
Washington91219
Henry8546
Lowndes79929
Monroe78911
Cleburne77214
Macon73722
Crenshaw71130
Bullock69619
Perry6886
Conecuh68414
Lamar6798
Wilcox63518
Sumter58122
Greene42618
Choctaw42213
Coosa3444
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