Aside from now claiming a wall to reduce illegal immigration into the United States is “immoral,” Democrats have refused to provide additional funding for border security measures they have supported in the past when a Democrat was president.
Tom Elliott, the founder and editor of Grabien, went through the Citizens Against Government Waste’s (CAGW) data on where government spending can be cut — their 2018 “Prime Cuts” — and gathered a list of expenditures Democrats have supported that cost more than the $5.7 billion President Donald Trump is asking for border security. To be fair, Republicans have supported these wasteful projects as well.
1. Rural Utility Service
Taxpayers spend $8.2 billion a year on this program, which was originally intended to bring electricity to rural communities. That was achieved, but as with most government programs, the goal is never to solve a problem, but to continue collecting money from taxpayers. Now the program claims to bring broadband access to communities of less than 20,000 residents, but as Elliott notes, “there’s no indication the ‘beneficiaries’ of this expensive government agency actually appreciate the program, and the majority of its projects are not completed on time or within budget.”
2. Sugar Subsidies
Technically, these subsidies cost taxpayers $1.2 billion a year, but CAGW notes that the 5-year savings amounts to $6 billion — more than Trump’s border security. Considering members of the Left keep trying to tax sodas and other sugary drinks, it’s odd they continue to provide subsidies to the production of those drinks.
3. Community Development Grants
Even President Barack Obama suggested this program should be reined in, though that doesn’t mean it actually was. Still, it continues to get $3 billion a year (the five-year savings would then total $15 billion). The original intention for these grants was to help failing American cities, but, as we’ve learned from other government projects, the results of the program have been underwhelming. Plagued with dysfunction, the program sends grants to wealthy communities and fails to produce “accountability and results.”
4. The United Nations
The U.S. continues to give more and more money yearly to the U.N. In 2016, the U.S. gave $10 billion — a 57% increase over the 2009 contribution. CAGW doesn’t suggest eliminating funding for the U.N. but suggests cutting the contribution by 25% to save $12.5 billion over five years.
Eliminating the federal subsidies for Amtrak could save $9.7 billion over five years. Amtrak could be turned over to the private sector, as it currently is dependent upon federal subsidies to survive.
6. Unused Federal Real Estate
Taxpayers spend $1.7 billion annually maintaining unused federal buildings. In fiscal year 2016, “federal agencies owned 3,120 buildings that were vacant (unutilized), and another 7,859 that were partially empty (underutilized),” the Congressional Research Service found in 2017. Selling these excess properties could net $15 billion in savings over five years.
7. Foreign Aid
Taxpayers spend more than $50 billion a year on foreign aid — even to countries that dislike America. As Elliott points out, “Cutting these donations back just 10 percent would be enough to fund the wall.”
8. Waste, Fraud, and Abuse
Sure, this phrase gets thrown around a lot, but the Government Accountability Office estimates more than $137 billion a year goes toward “payment errors” to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid and won’t implement the kind of protections against fraud that credit card companies use. Congress, however, wound down a program that was supposed to police fraud within Medicare.
While making any one of the above cuts could easily fund Trump’s border security measures, there are numerous instances of federal expenditures that are wasteful, and together could pay for some Trump’s border security. Each year, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) collects these egregious examples into a “Waste Report.” Examples include “$76 million in stipends to soldiers in the Somali National Army, devoting over $650,000 to develop a drama series to air in Afghanistan, spending up to $1 million on helping support and develop the legislative process in Libya, and setting aside $18 million to support tourism in Egypt.”
Paul’s 2018 Waste Book found $114 million in government waste — nowhere near enough for Trump’s security, but it could help.