Many of President Donald Trump’s critics are grappling with the reality the U.S. government will actually build the much-ballyhooed border wall Trump had pledged to repeatedly during his campaign.
However, those critics are still arguing the money put toward the project would be a waste.
The main question now is how the government will pay for it, to which Trump had said throughout the 2016 presidential campaign that Mexico would be responsible for the project’s financing.
Assuming the cost is on the high end of those estimates at $15 billion, the total cost of the border wall would constitute nearly 0.4 percent of the federal government’s $3.8 trillion FY 2015 budget.
While there are many other big ticket items on the federal budget, many of them dwarf the cost of a U.S.-Mexico border wall. Here are a few:
(NOTE: In Breitbart’s original post, they listed 10 examples; I’ve highlighted a only a few for the sake of brevity.)
The Lockheed Martin F-35 Stealth Fighter Jet Project: According to Reuters, the cost to build the fighter jet program is estimated to be $379 billion, which would be roughly the cost of 25 border walls.
Back in December in a tweet, Trump criticized the costs of the project, which have been plagued with problems and cost overruns, and said he was asking Lockheed Martin competitor Boeing to price out a similar project.
Early on, some anticipated that throughout the lifespan of the F-35, the federal government could spent up to $1 trillion overall in building the fighter jet and for its maintenance.
Medicare, Medicaid Improper Payments: A 2015 Government Accountability Office report estimated in 2014 the federal government made $59.9 billion in improper Medicare payments and $17.5 billion in improper Medicaid payments for a grand total of $76.4 billion, or roughly the cost of five border walls.
That same report found that when the $76.4 billion figure was combined with 122 programs, including the EITC, that number in FY 2014 comes out to $124.7 billion in improper federal government payment, which was up from $105.8 billion a year earlier.
Maintenance of Vacant and Unused Properties: The federal government reportedly spent $25 billion annually in 2009 on maintaining vacant and unused building.
The figure was cited in a 2009 Heritage Foundation report, which was calculated by then-Senate Oversight Subcommittee chairman Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK):
Unused Federal Property:
- $25 billion wasted per year in unused federal property. (At $21 per square foot occupancy cost, 1.186 billion square feet of excess space)
- Federal buildings worth tens of billions of dollars sit empty around the country. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has set a goal of reducing the inventory of all real property by 5%, or $15 billion, by 2009. Based on this goal, it appears that OMB considers this amount– at the very least—to be excess.
- DoD spends $3-4Billion on maintenance of unused buildings each year.
The figures have been revised downward over the year, to $8 billion in 2013 and to $1.7 billion in 2016. However, the cumulative amount over the past decade would have been more than enough to finance a border wall.
Farm Subsidies: According to Chris Edwards of the Cato Institute, the federal government through the Department of Agriculture spends at least $25 billion on farm subsidies.
Farm subsidies often go to those not necessarily in need of financial assistance from the government. Among those receiving those subsidies according to a 2015 Economist magazine piece are Walmart heirs Alice, Jim and Rob Walton, rockers Jon Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen and CNN founder Ted Turner.
In addition to the examples above, reports state that illegal immigrants cost the US anywhere from $100 billion to $113 billion a year. Putting a stop to that alone would save enough money to build 10 walls, even at McConnell’s higher estimate.
Our government is charged with the task of protecting Americans, which includes our borders. If Trump truly wants to make America great again, then he needs to follow through on building a border wall and getting these exorbitant expenses under control. Every department head he’s selected needs to be tasked with cutting their budgets and trimming off the fat they’ve gotten used to having.