Donald Trump is increasingly desperate to build a segment of new wall: No matter the length, he wants something done to deliver on his campaign promises. Never mind that most illegal border crossings and drug smuggling occur at ports of entry, or that hundreds of miles of walls already exist, or that experts say modern surveillance and other detection techniques are far more effective, or even that the Trump administration may have to steal the land of property owners who’ve never seen any problems with illegal crossings. Putting all that aside, the central promises Donald Trump made to his followers were a) he would build the wall (even saying it would be under budget!) and b) Mexico would pay for it.
Obviously, Mexico is not paying for it. Congress has refused to pay for it as well, rejecting wall funds in one of the only bipartisan agreements in recent years. So, Trump has ordered his staff and agencies to begin digging for money they can use, going around Congress and ignoring constitutional directives, all so he can put a feather in his cap heading into a re-election fight. Failing to build any of it would likely be devastating for him.
If there is one area of our government with an unbelievably massive budget, it’s the military, which consistently avoids budget hits that other agencies are constantly battling. Last month it was reported the Trump administration was seeking to take funds intended to make badly needed upgrades to military housing and hospitals, where military families are routinely fighting toxic mold, rat infestations, and even cancer-causing water contamination. Trump intends to take a whopping $3.6 billion from these housing funds.
Now the Pentagon has offered $1 billion from another source: funds intended for military pensions and new-recruit pay. From the Associated Press:
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., told The Associated Press, “It’s coming out of military pay and pensions. $1 billion. That’s the plan.”
Durbin said the funds are available because Army recruitment is down and a voluntary early military retirement program is being underutilized.
The funds are there because the Army is having a difficult time recruiting, which is another separate but equally troubling angle to this story.
The Army missed its recruiting goal this year, falling short by about 6,500 soldiers, despite pouring an extra $200 million into bonuses and approving some additional waivers for bad conduct or health issues.
That’s … troubling. And Sen. Durbin rightly noted exactly how much outrage would be reverberating if Democrats had suggested taking military pension and recruitment funds.
“Imagine the Democrats making that proposal — that for whatever our project is, we’re going to cut military pay and pensions.”
We know exactly how Democrats would be painted—as opponents of military families.