If you’ve ever wondered how a socialist dictator would go about building a border wall, you may have been given a glimpse of the answer to that question recently.
Do you remember how Trump abused his executive power last year when he declared a non-existent national emergency at the border so he could raid the defense budget and reallocate those funds toward his border wall? Well, he’s doing it again.
Last week, Trump renewed his national emergency declaration ahead of another round of his spending shell game where he will shift nearly $4 billion of Defense funds approved by Congress to pay for things like an American-Class Amphibian Assault Ship, F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, upgrades to National Guard Humvees, MQ-9 Reaper Drones, C-130 cargo aircraft, and P-8 spy planes. The money will be transferred to the Pentagon’s Counter-Drug fund, where it can then be spent on the wall.
Amazingly, the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Mac Thornberry (TX), is pushing back on Trump’s unconstitutional scheme, calling it a violation of Congressional authority. “Congress has the Constitutional authority to determine how defense dollars are spent,” he said. “I will be working with my colleagues to determine the appropriate steps to take.”
In the other chamber of Congress, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) expressed regret that the Pentagon was being raided to build the wall. “I wish they’d find the money somewhere else. I wish we could find it through the regular process.”
Notably missing in these so-called objections is a plan to stop Trump and retake Congress’s budget authority, proving that in the Age of Trump, the GOP has become a party of spineless cowards. But even if Republicans were to actually attempt to stop Trump, it would likely come to no avail thanks to a little-known change by the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board last year that essentially legalized secret national security spending.
The directive, SFFAS 56, Classified Activities, permits the government to “modify” public financial statements and move expenditures from one line item to another. It also expressly allows the government to refrain from telling taxpayers if and when public financial statements have been altered. So, just like the Mafia, the federal government will now keep two sets of books — one for public consumption and the other to be kept top secret.
When you combine robbing the Defense Department and keeping two sets of books, an environment is created where Trump is not only free to spend money as he wishes, he’s also free to dole out some taxpayer-funded payola to his political friends. And that leads us to another border wall announcement.
Yesterday, Trump waived federal contracting laws to allegedly “speed up” construction of the wall. In reality, it will create the perfect environment for the kind of fraud, waste, and abuse that always results from shady backdoor relationships.
Of the ten laws being waved, laws requiring open competition for bids and allowing losing bidders to protest government decisions will no longer apply.
According to the administration, these wavers only apply to contractors who have already been vetted, so there’s no need to worry. However, one of the vetted companies is Fisher Sand and Gravel Co. of Dickinson, ND, a contractor already under suspicion for having a too-close-for-comfort relationship with Trump.
Back in December, the Pentagon awarded a $400 million border wall contract to build a segment of the wall across a wildlife refuge in Arizona. At the time, Trump pushed for Fisher to get the contract, but the Army Corps of Engineers rejected the company because their bid didn’t meet standards. Fisher ultimately got the contract, not because they met Army Corps standards but as a result of a Trump/FOX News propaganda effort.
Now, with these new wavers in place, Fisher and other friends of Trump are free to collect all the money they can handle to build the wall without needing to comply with those pesky laws.
Merriam-Webster defines a dictator as “a person granted absolute emergency power,” a power historically appointed by a governing body (think Caesar and the senate in ancient Rome).
Is it just me, or has America’s governing body (aka Congress) appointed a dictator named Donald Trump?
David Leach is the owner of the Strident Conservative.