Cracks in the Wall

The federal government’s standstill, the longest in the history of the United States — 35 days — caused the GDP to contract by $11 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Of this amount, $3 billion will never be recovered. It’s a concrete demonstration of the Trump effect.

Trump promised he would never give in to the Democrats, as he’s determined to spend $5.7 billion of public funds to erect his wall along the border between the U.S. and Mexico. In the end, he’s coming out of the conflict losing everything.

The Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, had the upper hand with Trump. Citizens weren’t duped by his strategy of blaming Democrats for the government’s standstill, as can be seen by his drop in popularity in the polls. And the Republican party’s extreme base considers him a coward for having yielded.

It serves him right. The issue, however, hasn’t been settled. The negotiated compromise foreshadows a new disruption in the government’s activities in three weeks, on Feb. 15, if Democrats and Republicans can’t come to an agreement on financing the wall. Democrats remain firmly opposed to this barbed and concrete whim, but they agree to investing an equivalent sum in improving border security by adding surveillance drones and patrol officers.

If Trump had a bit more clarity and some adult advisers around him, he would see that this compromise would allow him to save his reputation. He’s bringing up the possibility of declaring a state of emergency after the delay, in order to finance the wall’s construction using funds designated for natural disasters. If so, the government’s standstill will be eclipsed by a constitutional crisis.

The erratic president’s qualms shouldn’t distress the Democrats. They should use the weight of their newly acquired majority to exert constant pressure on Trump and shackle him until the elections.

Trump promised — albeit unsuccessfully — to make the Mexicans pay for his wall. Federal civil servants endured his stubbornness for 35 days. Now is the time to demand that he answers for his actions in front of Congress.

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