The Government Is Shut Down Over Trump’s Ego, Not a Wall

We are now entering the 13th day of a government shutdown and the conventional wisdom is that the impasse is all about whether congress will provide funding for Trump’s wall along the country’s southern border. The facts, however, indicate otherwise.

As a reminder, after the president told Pelosi and Schumer that he would be proud to shut the government down over his wall, he backed down and the White House suggested that he would find other sources of funding for his pet project. That is when the Republican-controlled Senate unanimously passed appropriations to keep the government open without funding for Trump’s wall. But after right wing media personalities like Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh accused him of caving, Trump once again changed his tune and demanded that funding for his wall be included—triggering the current shutdown.

Something that hasn’t gotten enough attention is that congress already gave Trump $1.7 billion for physical barriers along the border, but the administration has only spent 6 percent of those funds. If the president was truly concerned about border security, you’d think he’d be busy addressing the issue with money that has already been allocated. But he’s not.

Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer have now laid out a plan that will be voted on in the House on Thursday to fund the government, but doesn’t include funding for a wall. They presented it to Trump during a meeting on Wednesday and according to CNN’s sources, the president responded by saying that he can’t accept their offer because he “would look foolish” if he did that.

One of the subtle ways the president’s behavior has been normalized is that the government shutdown is still being presented as a conflict between he and the Democrats over funding for his wall. As you can see, the facts don’t support that. This whole crisis is about Trump needing to prop up his ego. He made a ridiculous demand and then took some heat from right-wingers when he didn’t follow through. Now his ego must carry on in order to avoid looking foolish. For those of us who have actually been paying attention, that train left the station a long time ago.

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Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60.