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The Cost Of Trump’s Wall Compared To The Programs He’s Proposing To Cut

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The Cost Of Trump’s Wall Compared To The Programs He’s Proposing To Cut


Reprinted with permission from ProPublica.

The fiscal 2018 price for President Trump’s border wall is in: $2.6 billion. That’s a cost to U.S. taxpayers, not a cost many people any longer think will be picked up by the Mexican government.

As first installments go, it’s a pretty big number. Indeed, its size can be appreciated in one powerful way by setting it against some of the many budget cuts Trump proposed this week.

One year of spending on a border wall is the equal of, well, the federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting plus the $231 million given to the country’s libraries and museums plus the $366 million that goes to legal help for the poor.

Actually, the tab is nearly three times the cost of those combined budgets.

Care about the arts? Wondering where the next “Hamilton” might come from?

The federal government could increase the annual combined spending on the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities by 900 percent or so and still not get to the $2.6 billion.

It’s worth noting the $2.6 billion will not actually go toward the big, permanent wall the president has committed to. That’s forecast to be around 10 times the $2.6 billion. The $2.6 billion will go to build a bunch of smaller walls and patch holes in the assortment of fences that now exist.

All these numbers confusing you? Wish you were better at math?

The $2.6 billion is more than twice the annual costs of 21st Century Community Learning Centers created across the country to fund programs run before and after school and throughout the summer. You could actually throw in the $190 million spent on teaching students with disabilities and limited English proficiency and still not match the wall costs.

The wall, of course, is supposed to protect Americans from the cheap labor making its way illegally into the country. It might strike some as odd that, while investing in the wall, the administration has opted to disinvest in a variety of economic programs. The Economic Development Administration’s $221 million budget is wiped out in Trump’s plan. Ditto the $434 million dedicated annually to job training for older low-income people. And the $119 million aimed every year at 420 economically depressed counties in Appalachia.

Had enough of this? Weary of politics and partisanship? Sick of talking about the wall? Want to get away from it all?

There are plenty of options, of course. What there won’t be anymore, under the Trump budget, are the $20 million spent on National Heritage Areas or the $13.2 million spent on the National Wildlife Refuge Fund.

IMAGE: A U.S. flag is seen next to a section of the wall separating Mexico and the United States, in Tijuana, Mexico, January 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes


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  1. Aaron_of_Portsmouth March 19, 2017

    To all those rabid Trumpsters who are out there in America, don’t worry. Even though Trump, with the GOP’s blessing, has plans to divert funding for your health and services needs, shortchanging your EBT benefits, etc., you’ll be able to make trips to the Wall by bus—Trump won’t help pay for bus fare—and touch the Wall. The Wall will have the power to heal all ailments, and you can munch on certain sections of the wall to get your daily mineral supplement while getting treatment. Tacos and enchiladas will be available, served by merchants who you now vilify, and you’ll be bused back. I don’t know how you’ll meet your daily food requirements—maybe munch on sage brush on the prairies,or eating mushrooms in the forests and fish and shrimp from polluted waters on the east and west coasts, and the Gulf of Mexico. Snakes and insects are a good source of protein as well, and those same wealthy GOP congressmen, who are repeatedly re-elected and approved this new reality you’re about to face, may chip in to subsidize you.

    1. FireBaron March 20, 2017

      Nah. It’ll never happen. GOP congressmen are notorious for being pecunious as all hell when it comes to donating to the needy. They would rather donate $10K to an organization with a $1B endowment than donate $10 to a needy family for food.

  2. InGen12 March 19, 2017

    The Dumpster is so intent on de-funding the US social programs, how about he stop his nearly weekly trips to Mar-A-Lago to play golf every weekend? The savings on those trips alone would keep funding for some of the more important programs. His family is no better. This week his 3 oldest kids and their families all descended on Aspen, Colorado with nearly 100 SS agents to protect them. Any guesses on what that little trip is costing taxpayers? Americans need to stand up and tell Drumpf and his family to keep their greedy, little hands out of our money!

  3. Dominick Vila March 19, 2017

    The cost of Trunp’s wall, is just one of many facets of an agenda that almost seems designed to move the USA from its privileged position as leaders of the free world, to an isolationist nation tacitly willing to hand over our global interests to other superpowers, especially China. After months of relentless insults and threats directed at Mexicans and Muslims, provocative statements that encourage overt demonstrations of racism and anti-Semitism; irresponsible statements undermining NATO and criticism the European Union; promises to deal directly with Taiwan, withdrawing from the TPP and threatening to withdraw from the Paris Accord; and advancing a budget proposal that not only undermines the ability of the EPA to protect our environment, but promises to eliminate desperately needed social programs and ends international programs, such as the USAID, are likely to consequences that few Americans have taken into consideration. China is likely to emerge as one of the winners of this train wreck. The vacuum being created by our deliberate and obstinate move towards isolationism will be filled with China who is suddenly emerging as the new economic super power at a global level. Instead of cutting their foreign aid budget, like Trump has done to ours, China quadrupled theirs, and is making unambiguous overtures throughout Africa and Latin America to expand their economic hold on emerging markets.

  4. FF March 19, 2017

    All this “winning” we’ve been doing since January 20th just has me exhausted! How about you???

    1. Independent1 March 20, 2017

      Yes, and it’s the first time I’ve ever heard anyone call moving America back in time at least by 8-10 decades as ‘winning’. I’d call that losing!!!

  5. Independent1 March 20, 2017

    Actually, according to Reuters, the total cost of Trumps monstrosity (which he calls a wall) will come out at a projected 21.6 Billion and take 3 years to build (good luck with that). I think whomever made the projection doesn’t really understand fully some the geography in the area and the extensive amount of digging and blasting that will have to be done in some places (not to mention – what are they going to do when the wall encounters waters it has to cross); And has the estimator even factored in the time frame of the litigation that will go on when some land holders file suits against the government for the land grab.

    See this from Reuters:

    Exclusive – Trump border ‘wall’ to cost $21.6 billion, take 3.5 years to build: internal report


    But in any case, the 21.6 Billion isn’t really the major problem, it’s the enormous potential environmental damage that building the nonsensical wall will foist on all of us – significant environmental damage. Environmental damage that will be created by a wall that will not provide any better security for America than is being provided by the current series of walls – walls that have already created not only environmental damage but which have also hastened the demise of a number of endangered animal species and even has caused a number of human deaths.

    See this from the Scientific American:

    Trump’s Wall Could Cause Serious Environmental Damage


    There are simply no words that can accurately express just how despicable a human being Donald Trump is.

    1. FireBaron March 20, 2017

      Let’s see. The government estimates it will take 3.5 years to build it. That’s what they also estimated the Big Dig in Boston (which ended up taking over 10 years) was gonna be.

      1. Independent1 March 20, 2017

        And the 21.6 billion could turn out to be well over 30 billion by the time it gets done – if someone with at least a few ounces of common sense doesn’t wake up long before it goes too far and stop Trump’s idiocy (building of the wall).

  6. FireBaron March 20, 2017

    Oh, but it’s a wall, so we KNOW it’s going to keep people out who shouldn’t be here. Just like the wall that keeps Hamas from getting weapons into Gaza from Egypt. Just like the current wall that keeps drugs from coming into the US (ever hear of water-born delivery?).


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