Progress for President Trump’s wall along the southern border is slow-going, according to figures recently released by attorneys for the U.S. House of Representatives.
An attorney representing the House — which Democrats currently control — recently told federal judge Haywood Gillam that only 1.7 miles of Trump’s wall has been built so far despite $1.5 billion in tax dollars appropriated for wall construction in fiscal year 2018. Judge Gillam requested the information while hearing a case brought before him by 20 state Attorneys General and other groups seeking to stop Trump’s wall from being built.
Ever since 2015, Trump has promised to build a wall along the entirety of the 1,933-mile border the United States shares with Mexico, and that he would make Mexico pay for it. Since then, Trump has shifted the goalposts considerably.
President Trump failed to secure a commitment from Democrats in Congress to build the wall by refusing to fund the federal government for 35 days between December 2018 and January 2019. The president is now seeking to get wall funding through an emergency declaration, which could bring in as much as $6 billion. Much of that money could come from military pensions. However, Judge Gillam could halt that plan if he rules in favor of the plaintiffs.
Under the current rate of spending, Trump’s wall could end up costing approximately $1.7 trillion, assuming $1.5 billion in spending for every 1.7 miles of wall along the 1,933-mile southern border. Given that there is currently $1.5 trillion in outstanding student debt (most of that in federal loans from the Department of Education), President Trump’s wall could feasibly end the student debt crisis. According to the Levy Institute of Economics at Bard College, this would lead to more than $1 trillion in new economic activity over a decade, which could create millions of new jobs.
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) has proposed the cancellation of all student debt burdens of less than $50,000, for all borrowers making less than $100,000 annually. Warren plans to pay for that with a tax on net worths in excess of $50 million, which she says would bring in nearly $3 trillion per decade.
Tom Cahill is a contributor for Grit Post who covers political and economic news. He lives in Bend, Oregon. Send him an email at tom DOT v DOT cahill AT gmail DOT com.