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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.

Confirmed Cases: 28770

Reported Deaths: 1092
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds224739
DeSoto144216
Madison124234
Jones109149
Neshoba97070
Lauderdale89479
Rankin86012
Forrest82942
Harrison79410
Scott75715
Copiah58016
Leake56519
Jackson55716
Holmes53641
Wayne52212
Lee51816
Oktibbeha51625
Washington5129
Yazoo4786
Leflore47449
Warren46317
Lowndes45912
Lincoln43734
Lamar4317
Grenada3965
Pike39312
Monroe37529
Lafayette3684
Attala35523
Newton3329
Sunflower3216
Covington3175
Bolivar29813
Panola2956
Adams28018
Simpson2713
Chickasaw26418
Tate2648
Marion26311
Pontotoc2616
Jasper2516
Noxubee2478
Pearl River24532
Clay24410
Winston2446
Claiborne23910
Marshall2123
Smith21111
Clarke20424
Coahoma1906
Union1819
Walthall1794
Kemper17614
Yalobusha1667
Lawrence1621
Carroll16111
Humphreys1309
Itawamba1308
Tippah12711
Webster12610
Calhoun1244
Montgomery1242
Hancock12313
Tallahatchie1153
Jefferson Davis1074
Prentiss1003
Greene968
Jefferson963
Wilkinson929
Tunica903
Amite842
George753
Tishomingo731
Choctaw724
Quitman690
Perry634
Alcorn601
Stone541
Franklin392
Benton270
Sharkey270
Issaquena81
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 41362

Reported Deaths: 983
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson4532143
Montgomery3875102
Mobile3797134
Tuscaloosa210739
Marshall162210
Lee124537
Shelby110923
Madison11047
Morgan10203
Walker87123
Franklin86314
Dallas8419
Elmore83614
Baldwin7359
Etowah64413
DeKalb6415
Butler60727
Chambers60027
Tallapoosa57269
Autauga55312
Unassigned50724
Russell5030
Lowndes45820
Lauderdale4576
Houston4464
Limestone4290
Cullman4114
Pike4075
Colbert3775
Bullock3649
Coffee3592
Barbour3331
Covington3327
St. Clair3192
Marengo29911
Hale29621
Escambia2936
Wilcox2848
Talladega2827
Calhoun2805
Sumter27912
Clarke2686
Dale2620
Jackson2522
Winston2373
Blount2181
Pickens2176
Chilton2152
Marion20613
Monroe2052
Choctaw19212
Randolph1889
Conecuh1866
Greene1788
Macon1778
Bibb1761
Perry1541
Henry1303
Crenshaw1243
Washington1027
Lawrence1000
Cherokee797
Lamar711
Geneva700
Fayette671
Clay612
Coosa571
Cleburne301
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