Trump’s declaration of a “national emergency” to fund the wall is preposterous and dangerous. As to the preposterous part, take it away, MBD:
Nothing says emergency more than “I didn’t need to do this.” https://t.co/djCmOMqdnY
— Michael Brendan Dougherty (@michaelbd) February 15, 2019
The border situation is a problem, not a national emergency. This is Donald Trump abusing the term and his presidential powers to get himself out of a political hole he dug for himself. Noah Rothman of Commentary identifies the stakes. Excerpt:
This is an especially dangerous game, in part because it further degrades the Madisonian scheme in which each branch of government is supposed to be a jealous steward of its constitutional prerogatives. Articles I and II seem especially eager to surrender their authority to Article III, if only to evade responsibility for having to execute their responsibilities. Trump’s game is dangerous, too, because it is contemptuous of Congress’s verdict on this domestic policy dispute. The president will radically expand the definition of what constitutes an emergency, the relevant statutes of which are supposed to be applied only when Congress cannot be consulted on the matter in a timely fashion. By appealing to the military to resolve a domestic policy dispute, Trump is actively eroding America’s sense of civic propriety.
Rothman correctly sees one especially disturbing meaning:
Even if Trump’s decision to invoke national security to erect his wall is stopped indefinitely by the courts, we may look back upon this moment as the crossing of the Rubicon. Congressional Democrats aren’t even being coy about their desire to expand on this precedent when their party regains control of the White House. “Want to talk about a national emergency?” asked Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “The epidemic of gun violence in America. That’s a national emergency.” There is no shortage of Democrats who are similarly convinced that climate change also represents an existential crisis, to say nothing of a national emergency. Many have endorsed draconian anti-industrial policies that are unlikely to pass in Congress as the only rational remedy to the crisis. The next president will undoubtedly face pressure from his or her core constituents to apply the precedent Trump is setting to their domestic policy priorities.
This was entirely unnecessary. Is entirely unnecessary. We must not allow ourselves to become a country that is ruled by presidential decree. If America needs a wall on its border, then let the president and his allies make a political case for it, and convince people. This is anti-democratic and, as Rothman says, will come back to haunt conservatives most of all.
UPDATE: How quickly the GOP forgets:
Outraged House Republicans sued President Barack Obama in 2014 for spending billions of federal dollars without congressional approval — and won. Now many House and Senate Republicans could side with President Trump for doing what they saw as a grave abuse of power by Mr. Obama — circumventing an unwilling Congress in a spending dispute.
The power of the purse is paramount for Congress. The constitutional edict that “no money shall be drawn from the Treasury but in consequence of appropriations made by law” gives Congress the upper hand over the executive branch when it comes to how federal funds are allocated and disbursed. The president can veto spending bills if he is dissatisfied, but is not supposed to rewrite them or defy Congress and spend money in ways it did not approve.
Many in both parties now say that the presidential decision to act unilaterally and fund construction for a border wall via an emergency declaration would establish a dangerous new model, encouraging presidents thwarted by Congress to simply cite such a crisis to spend dollars however and wherever they pleased.
“We have a crisis at our southern border, but no crisis justifies violating the Constitution,” said Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida.
Well, not all the GOP. Sen. Rubio is right, and I hope he’s not the only GOP Senator to speak out against Trump’s move. It was wrong when Obama did it, and it’s wrong when Trump does it.
UPDATE: Interesting comment from Isidore The Farmer:
We apprehend the equivalent of a mid-sized city of illegals at the border every single year. For 2018, that was about 400,000. Every. Single. Year. Those are just the apprehensions, of course.
We only have about 50 cities with populations more than 400,000. So, picture in your mind that every year we apprehend the entirety of our 50th largest city (picture Tulsa proper) coming across our southern border illegally. Every. Year.
That would be an emergency on many levels for every nation throughout civilized history.
Historians centuries from now, studying the fall of the US, will be baffled by the US Empire’s refusal to address the emergency, or even recognize it as such. Baffled that, in fact, it was desired by most of the nation’s leaders.
Meanwhile, we have an active National Emergency relating to the Congo (since 2006), because it is supposedly a major foreign policy threat.
The empire is crumbling and will fall well within the lifetime of many reading this blog.