For the second consecutive year, rather than attend the White House Correspondents Dinner, President Donald Trump held a rally in a state friendly to the President. Last night, he spoke to attendees at a Michigan rally, where he disregarded his own campaign promises regarding the funding of the border wall and defunding Planned Parenthood.
In Washington Township, Michigan, Trump once again alluded to his promised wall. “We have to have borders, and we have to have them fast,” he said. “And we need security. We need the wall. We’re going to have it all. And again, that wall has started. We got 1.6 billion. We come up again on September 28th, and if we don’t get border security, we’ll have no choice. We’ll close down the country because we need border security.” (Emphasis mine.)
Trump repeatedly said on the campaign trail that Mexico would pay for the wall on the US-Mexico border. He praised his own negotiation skills and promised he would be able to make it happen.
Mexico will pay for the wall!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 1, 2016
Why, then, is the President now threatening to shut down the government in order to acquire American taxpayer funds to build a wall he repeatedly promised would be paid for by Mexico?
Since stepping foot in the Oval Office,, Trump has changed his tune and walked back the promise that Mexico would pay for the wall, demanding Congress and the American government — which we all know actually means the American taxpayer — pay for it.
His new promise? Mexico will reimburse us.
Eventually, but at a later date so we can get started early, Mexico will be paying, in some form, for the badly needed border wall.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 23, 2017
With Mexico being one of the highest crime Nations in the world, we must have THE WALL. Mexico will pay for it through reimbursement/other.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 27, 2017
Unfortunately, that seems pretty unlikely. The Mexican government released a statement last August that it will not fund the wall “under any circumstances”:
“As the Mexican government has always stated, our country will not pay, under any circumstances, for a wall or physical barrier built on US territory along the Mexican border. This statement is not part of a Mexican negotiating strategy, but rather a principle of national sovereignty and dignity.”
I have pointed out the futility of the wall before:
A wall will be expensive — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) estimated in 2015 a wall would cost anywhere from $12 to $15 billion, while a 2017 U.S. Department of Homeland Security internal report estimated as much as $21.6 billion…
A wall will require eminent domain. Sixty-seven percent of the land along the United States border with Mexico is private or state-owned; in order to build a wall along the border, it will be necessary for the government to forcibly seize land and private property from private citizens — which is the opposite of the small and limited government principles that conservatives frequently espouse. Conservatives oppose big government because we recognize that the more power the state acquires, the more power it desires and the more able it is to abuse that power and grant itself even more.
Beyond these issues, shutting down the American government in order to extract American taxpayer dollars to build a wall we were promised Mexico would fund makes no sense.
I’m certainly no fan of shutdown theater. It is a poor way to govern; governing by legislative hostage-taking is a destructive way to run a country and ignores the importance of building coalitions to address the challenges facing the nation. But if that is the way President Trump wants to lead, then one has to wonder why he is unwilling to use the threat of a shutdown to defund Planned Parenthood instead.
Aside from repealing Obamacare and passing tax cuts, one of the most promised priorities of Republicans for the last several years has been stripping the largest provider of abortions in America of the $500,000,000 it receives from the taxpayers each year. When candidate Trump was courting the support of pro-life Republicans during the primaries, he too made this promise:
I would defund it because of the abortion factor, which they say is 3 percent. I don’t know what percentage it is. They say it’s 3 percent. But I would defund it, because I’m pro-life. – Donald Trump during a Republican debate on February 25, 2016
However, since Republicans took the White House, the House of Representatives, and the Senate, there has been no progress on this front. Donald Trump seems completely uninterested in even attempting to keep his campaign promise.
Planned Parenthood is as fully-funded as ever. Wouldn’t it make much more sense for the President to use shutdown threats to force Democrats to choose between funding the government or funding the nation’s largest abortion provider? It would be a huge win for conservatives and for the pro-life movement.
President Trump could use his bully pulpit to help save countless lives by finally delivering on the promise to defund Planned Parenthood. So far, he hasn’t. Republicans must hold him accountable.
The views expressed here are those of the author and do not represent those of any other individual or entity. Follow Sarah on Twitter: @sarahmquinlan.