Fact Checking "Steel Slats"
Trump's efforts at re-branding his wall hit a speed-bump
(of his own making)
Jose Luis Gonzalez | Reuters
Trump's tariffs make his "transparent" barrier much more expensive
By Ray Cunneff
December 21, 2018
The Trump White House efforts to win broader support for a border wall by describing the project as “border security” with “steel slats” serve as a reminder that the president’s steep tariffs on steel and aluminum would make such a project much more expensive.
So far this year, the price of milled steel products is up roughly 25 percent, which matches the level of import duties Trump applied in March to all steel products made outside the U.S., according to a CNBC analysis by John Schoen:
"Despite congressional Democrats’ opposition to Trump’s demands of $5 billion for a border wall, the president Friday seemed determined to force a government shutdown."
But, should Trump actually get his $5 billion, it would merely be a down-payment on an estimated (average) overall cost of between $20 billion and $40 billion. (The high-end estimate by the Brookings Institution came to over $60 billion.) And all of these estimates were made before Trump's tariffs on steel and aluminum increased their cost by 25 percent.
The "steel slats" design is a response to Trump’s call for “transparency” and the need for “openings because you have to see what’s on the other side of the wall,” in remarks he made to reporters in July 2017.
“I’ll give you an example,” he said. “As horrible as it sounds, when they throw the large sacks of drugs over, and if you have people on the other side of the wall, you don’t see them — they hit you on the head with 60 pounds of stuff? It’s over. As crazy as that sounds, you need transparency through that wall.”
He actually imagines drug smugglers throwing sacks of drugs over his wall as he demands a 7th Century technology to solve a 21st Century problem while, as Nicolle Wallace said on MSNBC's "Dateline:White House" yesterday, "Taking six sides of a two-sided issue".
Why the DHS believes that a 30–foot tall wall cannot be scaled or overflown
and that a tunnel cannot be built deeper than six feet below ground is unclear.
His wall, or as he now tries to re-brand it "steel slats", is preposterous in virtually every respect, not just fleets of drones able to fly over it carrying drugs or other contraband, but that it would need to be at least as deep as it is high to limit tunneling. (The deepest tunnel dug by the drug cartels found thus far was 70 feet below the ground level.)
But all of that aside, a wall, any wall, would only impede a tiny fraction of illegal entries. As Mick Mulvaney, Trump's incoming "acting" Chief of Staff, once described Trump's wall a "simplistic" solution and Trump's grasp of the situation on the ground "absurd and almost childish" in a 2015 interview.
He added, "And by the way, the bottom line is the fence doesn't stop anybody who really wants to get across. You go under, you go around, you go through it. And that's what the ranchers tell us, is that they don't need a fence".
The keys to real border security are technology and manpower. A wall is the least effective and most expensive reflexive action and one that fails to address the underlying issues. Such a wall would indeed be a symbol, an enduring monument to hubris and to Trump's real motto, "Strength Through Stupidity".
BROOKINGS INSTITUTION FINDINGS:
The wall would not stop smuggling
The wall would hurt the U.S. economy
The wall would not reduce crime in the U.S.
The wall would create severe societal and environmental impacts
The wall could prevent the renegotiation of water-sharing agreements critical to water and food security as well as to farming
LINK TO FULL REPORT: