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Political Bridge Burning

For the past few posts, our focus has been on the southern border with Mexico. You may think that the kerfuffle is all about border security, but that interpretation doesn’t hold up very well. Both President Trump and the opposition publicly agree that enhanced border security is important and would be a worthy outcome. So, what is the issue?

Is it the cost? Probably not. Both sides agree that appropriating funds for enhanced border security is necessary. Yes, they are apart on how much funding, but the difference is only thirty seconds or so of the total cost of operating the Federal government. That doesn’t seem like enough difference to justify major disruption in the lives of nearly a million Federal workers and related non-government employment, along with the disruption in government services and responsibilities. The negative effect of the stalemate is just too far out of proportion to the funding gap.

In months past, President Trump proclaimed that the cost was neither an issue nor going to be an issue. Mexico would be paying for the needed enhanced security. Now, that pipedream has faded, and both sides agree that it will be paid for by our Federal government. Even so, the cost is not the cause of the kerfuffle.

Both sides appear to be digging in over a wall versus no wall. It also seems unlikely that this is at the heart of the impasse. The two-thousand-mile border, (the distance from Chicago to Los Angeles,) likely needs a wall or at least a better fence along some stretches but building a wall that stretches uninterrupted from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico is likely not even possible. At least part of it would need to be secured with electronic detection and drones. Even were it possible, building the wall would probably take many years. It would not enhance security much for quite some time.