So, let's get this straight: Montana Sen. Jon Tester wants to waste $25 billion on an unproven concept, not hold the President accountable to his word and get little for Montana in return?
What's going on?
Oh, that's right. It's an election year and Tester can't be seen as soft on immigration.
So Tester will be the tough at the expense of common sense and taxpayer dollars.
Tester announced late last week, as part of the small cadre of lawmakers trying to negotiate a border security plan, that he was willing to consider the idea championed by President Donald J. Trump to build a formidable wall along the United States' southern border with Mexico to attempt preventing illegal immigration.
Originally, Trump promised American citizens that Mexico would pay for the wall. When that proved to be a pipe dream, Trump suggested he'd extract the payment for the wall by placing high trade tariffs on Mexican goods, which would likely trigger a trade war. When that plan failed, Trump has reverted back to making sure that American taxpayers cough up the funding for the questionable idea.
We question Tester's support for a $25 billion boondoggle (to be fair: He supports doling out the funds during a 10-year period).
We remain unconvinced that just putting up a wall will solve the problem. After all, there are underground tunnels and other ways immigrants cross the border. The largest wall on earth hasn't kept people out of China.
Instead, Tester has seemed to accept the idea of the wall without even questioning the cost or holding Trump responsible for making sure that someone else besides American taxpayers foot the bill.
In other words, Congress can't figure out how to fund CHIP, or figure out how to fund health insurance for millions of citizens, but it can figure out billions for a wall?
It's an odd position for a Democrat in Montana, where the border means Canada. We suspect there's some horse trading going on during those negotiations Tester is involved in. We bet that in exchange for the wall support, Tester is wrangling promises and funding to ensure that the Canadian border crossings are well enough funded to remain open 24-hours-a-day.
And of course, it's an election year for Tester. That means he cannot risk being seen as soft on immigration, even though the issue hardly effects the average Montana resident in a meaningful way.
Tester's support of the wall is an exercise in politics. He's demonstrated no long-term interest in building it, and if he really cared so darn much about border security, why not build one along Canada, too? Couldn't killers, rapists and terrorists -- all the classes of undesirables pouring in from the south according to the White House -- just as likely to use the north?
That's the absurd point of this "wall" exercise.
Building a wall, fence or bulwark anywhere doesn't make the country safe. If we really want to talk about border security, it has to be something much more sophisticated than just a wall. Does Tester honestly believe that technology developed in the Stone Age is enough to thwart these threats which should be savvy enough to get around it?
Tester should be smart enough to know this wall is a $25 billion comfort object. If it is even built, it will just give the appearance of security, but won't really make us safer. It will be something to be checked off a list, but anyone in Homeland Security knows that if it were really as simple and inexpensive as a wall, it would have been done decades ago.
Instead, we're seeing what Tester is willing to do to get re-elected. He's taking a ridiculous stand rather than doing what's right. Tester is not even willing to hold the administration to account for its promise of having someone else pay for the wall. That alone is an abdication of responsibility he has as a Senator.
A Mexico-U.S. border wall isn't just a bad idea, it's also an expensive and ineffective one.
We can't afford the wall, and we can't afford to have a Senator who won't stand up against this kind of nonsense.