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: 296154

Reported Deaths: 6764
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19700230
Hinds18851392
Harrison16736281
Rankin12757265
Jackson12623228
Lee9694161
Madison9480203
Jones7990147
Forrest7234138
Lauderdale6837226
Lowndes6032140
Lamar589680
Lafayette5740113
Washington5220130
Bolivar4616124
Oktibbeha441593
Panola431995
Pearl River4178131
Warren4134115
Pontotoc410571
Marshall403592
Monroe3990127
Union396174
Neshoba3817169
Lincoln3552104
Hancock348975
Leflore3380118
Sunflower318986
Tate303174
Pike301296
Scott294570
Alcorn292263
Yazoo290565
Itawamba290175
Coahoma281169
Tippah279265
Copiah278758
Simpson276280
Prentiss270258
Wayne254341
Leake252871
Marion252778
Covington249580
Grenada247878
Adams234678
George232145
Newton230852
Winston221877
Jasper213645
Tishomingo212665
Attala206669
Chickasaw201453
Holmes182370
Clay179251
Stone172429
Tallahatchie171239
Clarke169371
Calhoun158028
Smith153033
Yalobusha145036
Greene127833
Walthall124340
Noxubee122831
Montgomery122639
Perry122135
Lawrence120321
Carroll118625
Amite111734
Webster110832
Jefferson Davis102231
Tunica99323
Claiborne98829
Benton93824
Humphreys92927
Kemper90323
Quitman77414
Franklin76119
Choctaw69817
Jefferson62727
Wilkinson62426
Sharkey49117
Issaquena1676
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 497154

Reported Deaths: 10029
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson714001387
Mobile36252736
Madison32573462
Tuscaloosa24289414
Montgomery22708519
Shelby22112215
Baldwin19856285
Lee15021155
Calhoun13755288
Morgan13742252
Etowah13379320
Marshall11439210
Houston10110262
Elmore9451185
Limestone9413136
St. Clair9003225
Cullman8979182
Lauderdale8610212
DeKalb8486175
Talladega7582165
Walker6571259
Jackson6542103
Autauga631391
Blount6229127
Colbert5998120
Coffee5259103
Dale4657107
Russell406433
Franklin399778
Covington3989106
Chilton3891100
Escambia378772
Tallapoosa3613143
Clarke343953
Chambers3423111
Dallas3419142
Pike293372
Marion288895
Lawrence284683
Winston258668
Bibb245960
Geneva240270
Marengo238357
Pickens225055
Barbour212951
Hale211969
Fayette201357
Butler201166
Henry182941
Cherokee177739
Monroe166639
Randolph164640
Washington156635
Macon147243
Crenshaw146254
Clay145554
Cleburne139741
Lamar133733
Lowndes132551
Wilcox122525
Bullock117236
Conecuh107024
Perry105927
Sumter99432
Coosa89624
Greene88532
Choctaw55123
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