Cost estimates for President-elect Donald Trump’s proposed border wall vary wildly, with the current Congressional estimate ranging from $12 billion to $38 billion.
Even the high end of that range is much less than our government spends annually on much less useful endeavors which are less clearly in line with Washington’s sworn duty to the American people.
Take ObamaCare, for example. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the federal government will spend $1.34 trillion on that massive boondoggle over the next decade, if it’s not repealed. 2016’s ObamaCare spending was estimated at $110 billion.
That’s an awful lot of money to spend on a program that very few people are happy with, a program that made life much worse for the millions of Americans who got saddled with lower-quality insurance at higher prices. Not only are those people paying higher premiums and deductibles, but their tax money is being used to patch up the thousand leaky holes in the hull of the S.S. ObamaCare.
As with most other Big Government disasters, it costs a lot more than the American people were led to believe. The cost is hidden from them with accounting tricks, and “socialized” by making some people pay much more, so that others can get a comparatively “good deal” and become political shock troops for shielding the program from reform.
ObamaCare’s craptastic website alone cost over $2 billion. Add the $1.2 billion wasted on the worst of the state exchange projects, and you’re well on the way to covering the cost of the border wall. Democrats think the billions wasted on these ObamaCare websites is scarcely even worth mentioning, but they shriek in deficit-hawk agony at the cost of border security.
ObamaCare is hardly the only example of money wasted on a scale that dwarfs the enhanced border security our government has been vowing to provide for decades. The cost of the food stamp program skyrocketed from $50 billion to over $74 billion per year under President Obama (and it grew at a breathtaking rate under President Bush as well.) Obama’s absurdly under-performing “green energy” programs cost $39 billion a year over the past five years. The cost of a border wall is nothing compared to failed programs Democrats financed without a moment’s hesitation, or a word of complaint when the promised results failed to materialize.
The Government Accountability Office routinely finds over $100 billion in annual waste and abuse; it was $125 billion in the last report. A great deal of this is sheer bureaucratic waste from duplicative and poorly-administered programs. Few in Washington seem to think this is a crisis requiring urgent attention. None of the politicians currently complaining about the cost of a border wall is troubled by the loss of $125 billion in taxpayer funds to mismanagement. The GAO says that fewer than a third of the recommendations it makes to reduce government waste are followed.
Private watchdog groups routinely publish waste, fraud, and abuse reports that dwarf the GAO’s estimates. Citizens Against Government Waste found $644.1 billion in savings for a single year in its latest “Prime Cuts” report – enough to actually balance the federal budget, and almost 17 times what would be needed to build the border wall, using the highest cost estimate.
Solid border security would help to cut the cost of many oversized federal and state social programs. Arguments about the cost of illegal immigration will rage on forever, but when the Heritage Foundation estimated the net cost to U.S. taxpayers of each illegal immigrant at $14,000, its analysts said they were understating the cost to American social services to arrive at that number. Border security measures that drastically reduce the number of illegal border crossings will pay for themselves rather quickly. Some estimates count the total cost of illegal immigration as almost $100 billion per year. If a border wall reduced that number by a third, it would pay for itself in a single year, even using the highest cost estimates.
The border wall would be a one-time cost, unlike the ongoing annual cost of federal programs, which start big and almost invariably grow more expensive over time. Cost increases are built right into the programs, in fact, so when someone proposes freezing the cost, they are savaged for advocating draconian “cuts” in the program. The border wall would have annual maintenance costs, of course, but they would be a fraction of its construction cost, and they wouldn’t have the build-in billion-dollar bloat of most federal spending binges.
On the contrary, you can bet border security will remain one of the few line items in the federal budget watched carefully by representatives who think nothing of throwing billions at ridiculous projects, and make zero effort to ensure the money is spent wisely – as was most certainly the case with ObamaCare.