February 13, 2019

Border Wall Compromise

“Congressional negotiators reached agreement Monday night to prevent a government shutdown and finance construction of new barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border.” The deal includes just under $1.4 billion to construct 55 miles of fencing. AP News

See past issues

From the Left

The left supports the deal while criticizing many of Trump’s demands.

“The compromise, to be clear, is a mixed bag for progressives. But on balance, based on what we are learning now, it’s plainly more of a victory than not.”
Washington Post

“[Trump’s] comprehensive proposal to overhaul the legal and illegal immigration systems didn’t even have enough support among Republicans alone to pass the House last year. The wall has gone unfunded repeatedly. And the last major Department of Homeland Security spending bill, passed in March 2018, didn’t meet Trump’s demands for additional border patrol officers and reduced ICE detention beds. Nothing — not even shutting down the government for more than a month — has moved Trump closer to getting his funding demands in Congress…

It’s increasingly looking like Trump has no choice but to accept a bipartisan border security proposal that his most hardline allies see as pathetic.”
Vox

Some posit that “the whip count that matters here is not really what legislators on Capitol Hill think. It is probably — and we recognize the bizarreness of this sentence — more important what conservative commentators and Fox News presenters think of the deal than it is what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) thinks… Predicting where Trump falls after checking in with prominent members of the conservative media world is tricky. As of writing, though, signs are good for passage.”
Washington Post

Many are condemning Trump’s inaccurate claims when talking about the border wall. “Trump’s comments on Monday night echoed what he said about El Paso during his State of the Union speech last week — that fencing along its border with Ciudad Juárez installed during 2008 and 2009 directly reduced violent crime, even though data from the FBI says otherwise… There’s just one problem: Trump’s claim is false. Like many other American cities, violent crime in El Paso has been falling steadily for about 25 years, and actually went up slightly after border fencing was installed.”
Vox

Worth noting: “Starting in 2006, when Congress passed the Secure Fence Act, the federal government used eminent domain to seize… plots and put up barriers, as high as 18 feet… The cost has been staggering. The most recent 33 miles in the valley have set back taxpayers $641 million, or $19.4 million a mile, for a hodgepodge of fences, vehicle barriers, and some bollard fencing—with lots of gaps. And no one can really say, definitively, whether this project is worthwhile. To date, no federal agency has systematically audited what all the barriers cost and what, if any, effect they’ve had.”
The Atlantic

Regarding the Cadillac tax, “high-premium employer-based plans raise the cost of health care for everyone by encouraging the overconsumption of expensive services. This means that even Medicare and Medicaid face higher prices. Quite aside from its benefits for the health-care market, the Cadillac tax would also have the effect of expanding the tax base and making the tax code more efficient. It would raise revenues by about $15 billion a year… Rather than killing or delaying the Cadillac tax, Democrats should be trying to make it operational. The tax would raise revenue, lower costs, increase the efficiency of the tax code and give the Obamacare individual market its best chance at success.”
Karl W. Smith, Bloomberg

“The two issues with which he is most often associated, support for a balanced budget and opposition to free trade, put him at odds with both of our major political parties. An old-fashioned, soft-spoken Southerner, he nevertheless held views on so-called ‘social issues’ that would be to the left of the mainstream of the Republican Party, both then and now. He was a fervent supporter of the Vietnam POW/MIA movement in the late '80s and early '90s, but he was not in any sense a hawk. Never mind 2003. Perot opposed the first war in Iraq in 1990… Perot's death should be mourned by all Americans who regret the fact that it is no longer possible to make reasoned, non-ideological arguments about questions of public import, and by the devolution of our political life into mindless partisan squabbling.”
Matthew Walther, The Week

From the Right

The right is not excited about the deal, but believes signing it is the best option for Trump.

From the Right

The right is not excited about the deal, but believes signing it is the best option for Trump.

Fifty-five miles isn’t much, but it’s better than zero, which is what Nancy Pelosi promised to allow… It’s certainly not a great deal, but it’s probably best for Trump to declare a victory on principle and sign off on it. It does force Pelosi to part with barrier funding, which will stick in her craw just as the limitations to that funding will stick in Trump’s. That may be good enough for most Trump supporters.”
Hot Air

“Is this a good agreement? No. It's a tiny bandaid on a much larger policy challenge that each party has powerful incentives not [to] solve. But guess what? Anything that might have come out of this broken process was going to be a stinker. Shutdown politics are bad politics… The realistic goal of this committee, from a GOP perspective, was to save a little bit of face and walk [away] with some modicum of plausibly-claimed non-defeat. Because there are some new barriers included, this deal checks that box.”
Townhall

Many argue that “it was malpractice not to get more funding for a border barrier out of Congress when it was held by Republicans… It was bizarre that the White House didn’t formally request more funding last year, before Trump drastically increased his demand to $5.7 billion near the end of process. Finally, it was foolhardy to lurch into a shutdown without a viable strategy for getting out of it. At least the current deal doesn’t reflect Nancy Pelosi’s vow not to approve a dollar for a border barrier, and Democrats backed off their demand in the negotiations for a hard cap on ICE detentions.”
National Review

Some note that “if one didn’t understand contemporary American politics, [the deal] would seem odd. Democrats have supported building a wall in the past, and President Trump has nothing against some relief for the DACA population, or even the broader group of ‘dreamers.’ Yet Trump came up almost empty on the wall and the Democrats came up empty on amnesty for illegal immigrants who were brought here as children.”
Power Line Blog

Going forward, “Trump needs to shift the debate to a place where he has real leverage: using the threat of a sequester, rather than a shutdown, to force the Democrats to give him his border barrier. In 10 months’ time, if Congress fails to act, then an automatic sequester will kick in that would reduce federal spending in 2020 to levels that Congress and President Barack Obama set in the Budget Control Act of 2011…

“That looming deadline gives Trump leverage he needs to get his wall. Democrats may not fear another shutdown, but will they really sacrifice $55 billion for domestic priorities next year just to deny Trump a measly $5.7 billion for a physical border barrier?”
Washington Post

“Trump should be overjoyed. Tariffs are taxes paid by Americans on the things Americans buy. The only way China can be paying any of them is if something else, something extra, then happens — like the yuan dropping. This makes all imports into China more expensive for Chinese citizens. That's China paying for Trump's tariffs when the yuan falls. Without this happening, only Americans pay. With the yuan dropping, China pays as well. This is the claim Trump has been making all along, that China's really paying those trade taxes — now they are… Imposing significant export tariffs on a country should mean the value of that currency falls. This is what is happening. Why is Trump complaining about it?
Tim Worstall, Washington Examiner

“NBC and MSNBC embraced Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts in the first debate of Democratic presidential candidates Wednesday night, treating her like the star of the show. The debate led off with Warren, who had a huge popularity advantage from the start… NBC anchor Savannah Guthrie started it off sounding more like Warren’s press secretary. ‘You have many plans – free college, free child care, government health care, cancelation of student debt, new taxes, new regulations, the breakup of major corporations,’ Guthrie said, before teeing up an economy question. Guthrie even used Warren’s plan to break up tech companies as the foundation for a question for Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey… the round-robin final comments also ended with Warren, as Maddow asked her for the ‘final, final statement.’ That let NBC bookend the entire debate with Warren and Warren.”
Dan Gainor, Fox News

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

“Handing Trump some wall money might have been worth it if Democrats had got something in return like legalizing the DREAMers… and others whose temporary protected status Trump scrapped. But Democrats failed to even put this on the table despite many hints by Republicans that they would consider a DREAMer-for-wall deal. The Democratic Party seems to be more interested in rallying their base with the issue than actually solving it.”
The Week

On the bright side...

Tinder-style app for cows tries to help the meat market.
BBC

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