Another Way to Pay for the Wall

By | 2018-03-18T11:34:36+00:00 March 18th, 2018|
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President Trump has called for $1.8 billion over 10 years to build the wall securing our southern border. That amounts to a total of $18 billion. The open-borders folks, showing a sudden and—for many of them—highly unusual concern about increasing federal spending, claim it will cost three times as much, pushing the final tab past $50 billion.

That’s a lot of money. Or is it?

Do you believe it would be difficult to find, say, $60 billion being misspent in Washington? Of course you don’t.

In fact, it’s all too easy. The annual budget of the Department of Education is $68 billion, supplying the number we are looking for and then some. The ED, you may remember, has been prominent in the news recently. Its “Dear Colleague” letter requiring schools to allow boys who “identify” as girls to use the bathrooms and showers set aside for girls gave many Americans their first real glimpse of just how rotten, radical, and out of step with ordinary Americans that department is.

The Education Department was established in 1979 during the Carter Administration. How has American education been faring since 1979? Improving or getting worse? I believe it is perfectly obvious that educational standards have been collapsing at an increasing rate since 1979. In general, this collapse has been helped along by the federal government. The difficult job of educating young people has been abandoned for the much easier task of indoctrinating them.

The department has about 4,000 employees. America would be much better off today if it had all along had only one employee, the Secretary of Education, whose responsibilities were limited to incinerating that $68 billion before it could do any harm.

Better, instead of having the secretary simply burn the money, we could eliminate the Department of Education altogether! That would in only 10 years generate a savings of $680 billion. That’s real money, even in Washington.

Shutting down the department could also help create an opening for a return to a concern with education in America. Parts of the country in which common sense has not yet been totally marginalized would likely begin to find their way forward once the federal education leviathan ceases breathing down their necks. There is, of course, no hope in the foreseeable future for progressive enclaves like California. But who knows? Perhaps even California’s parents might begin to show an interest in education for their children if other parts of the country begin to show it can be done; that our “new normal” does not include giving up on educating young Americans.

In addition, eliminating the ED would be one step in the direction of restoring Constitutional government in America. Here is the original constitutional bargain, honorably entered into by the generation of the American Founders, described by James Madison in Federalist 45:

The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce . . . The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.

A department of education has no place in the original bargain.

Once upon a time, Americans would have agreed that federal legislation establishing a Department of Education would require a constitutional amendment—and in those days, neither the amendment nor the legislation would have passed. Today, Congress routinely passes legislation and courts make rulings that violate the letter and the spirit of the Constitution and of the bargain the Founders made. And this is before we even discuss the powers Congress has delegated to executive agencies that routinely violate the Constitution. What that means is that we now live in a largely post-constitutional America. Getting rid of the Department of Education would be a good start in the right direction.

Now, please don’t get me wrong. I am all for making Mexico pay for the wall, and I am keen to see how the president gets it done. But what’s wrong with getting it paid for many times over? The Department of Education is such an obvious place to start really, really draining the swamp, but why stop there? There are a number of federal departments and a truly astonishing number of federal agencies that we would be better off without.

Let’s get started! Meanwhile, I am open to your suggestions. Where do you think we should start and how far should we go?

About the Author:

Robert Curry
Robert Curry serves on the board of directors of the Claremont Institute and is the author of Common Sense Nation: Unlocking the Forgotten Power of the American Idea (Encounter Books). He also serves on the board of distinguished advisors for the Ronald Reagan Center for Freedom and Understanding.