A Reader From North Carolina Has Advice For The President On Shutdown Strategy
January 10, 2019, 11:53 AM
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Re: James Kirpatrick's article No Emergency, No Remittance Tax, Trump Trusting In Public Pressure In Wall Speech

From: A Reader from North Carolina [Email him]

With the government shutdown approaching its fourth week and few signs of compromise on the horizon, the question arises: does the White House have a Plan B?

One that has been repeatedly mentioned, not least by the President himself, is to declare a national emergency on the southern border and thereby divert the necessary resources for building the wall. Frustrated by years of inaction and broken promises, many not surprisingly find such strong-arm tactics appealing.

But such a move would face near universal opposition in the press (of course) and would clearly be challenged in the courts, where it might be blocked or endlessly delayed. And there is reason to worry about the precedent it would set if it did succeed. Sure, we all want a wall to be built but are we really willing to trade that for the likelihood that some future president—a President Booker, Harris or Romney—will employ the same tactics to bypass Congress and implement some cherished part of his or her policy agenda? The risk, in my view, is simply too great.

Instead, the White House might try a different approach. After letting the shutdown drag on for a while longer—long enough to make it abundantly clear to everyone that the only stumbling block is the Democrat’s commitment to endless immigration anarchy—the President should unilaterally announce that he is willing to reopen the government. The price for average Americans, he can say, is simply too great and he refuses to use them as a pawn, no matter how important the issue.

He can then give yet another speech, this time focusing on the endless series of broken enforcement promises since 1986 and their costs to the country (to taxpayers, workers, the rule of law and national cohesion as well as crime and terrorism). The speech would conclude with the announcement that he would be issuing a series of directives and executive orders intended to do everything in his power to enforce existing law (putting an end to DACA, placing a tax on remittances to fund future wall construction, an executive order ending birthright citizenship, administrative measures against workers employing illegals, etc.).

These, too, would be challenged in the courts but some might make it through to implementation. At the very least, no one could say that he didn't try.

Just as important are the political benefits. Recent reports suggest the Democrats plan to use their control of the House to push for a series of bills (doomed from the outset, it goes without saying) that will help position themselves as the champions of working Americans, tacit recognition that the identity political issues that mobilize their base won’t win them national elections. By throwing the immigration book at them, Trump would put them on their heels in the run-up to 2020, forcing them to take position on an issue that consistently harms them in the polls while helping Republicans—first and foremost, the President himself.