Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) – Zachary Cohen and Ryan Browne at CNN report that Trump is stealing $3.6 billion from 127 projects in the Defense Department budget that was constitutionally purposed by Congress, and using them unconstitutionally for 140 miles of his Great White Wall at the Mexico border.
And remember, he promised Mexico would pay for this. Instead he is taxing you to pay for it.
Trump stole $400 million from reconstruction projects in Puerto Rico made necessary by the massive destruction of Hurricane Maria. Puerto Ricans are American citizens and the territory is desperately in need of such an influx of funds.
They report that in Virginia alone, Trump has put his grubby mitts on monies ensuring that
- ” Cyber Operations Facility at Joint Base Langley-Eustis will lose $10,000,000.
Navy Ships Maintenance Facility in Portsmouth will lose $26,120,000.
A project to replace a hazardous materials warehouse in Norfolk will lose $18,500,000.
A project to replace a hazardous materials warehouse in Portsmouth will lose $22,500,000.
It is not like we need cyber-security after the number the Russians, Saudis and United Arab Emirates did on us in 2016, which gave us Trump in the first place.
And I guess it is just too bad for Virginians if the old dilapidated hazardous materials warehouses fail, creating biohazard for base personnel and the civilian population.
Note that there is no prospect of these stolen funds being replaced by new funding for these purposes in Congress– Trump’s Pentagon isn’t even asking for that.
Congress has over the years passed a number of laws allowing the president wide latitude in an emergency. The Trumpies, being Mussolini reincarnated, are just declaring everything an emergency and then allowing our brain-damaged president to do whatever he wants, regardless of what the elected national legislature had decided.
Only if enough Republicans somehow discover their long lost consciences could the present Senate repair this damage by returning control to Congress and fixing the vagueness of the emergency legislation.
CNN reports that at least Utah senator Mike Lee, a Republican, understands the problem:
- “”Congress has been ceding far too much powers to the executive branch for decades and it is far past time for Congress to restore the proper balance of power between the three branches,” Lee said. “We should start that process by passing the ARTICLE ONE Act, which would correct the imbalances caused by the National Emergencies Act,” Lee added.”
Trump is moving the United States to an executive dictatorship, simply disregarding the legislature. He is enabled in this creeping authoritarianism by his Republican-dominated Supreme Court, packed for this purpose by Moscow Mitch McConnell.
I wrote in late July,
- “The US Supreme Court on Friday, by a 5-4 Republican Party majority, temporarily ruled to allow Trump to divert monies dedicated by Congress to the Defense Department budget to wall-building in the Southwest.
If the court makes the ruling permanent, it will be attacking the principle of the “power of the purse,” the investment of authority over taxation and budget in parliament, which began with the Magna Carta [the Great Charter] in 1215. King John, the worst king in British history, tried to impose arbitrary taxes on the barons to fund his ruinous wars, and they rebelled and took London, forcing him to negotiate. It was settled that he couldn’t raise taxes unilaterally by decree. In essence, Trump (who is the worst president in US history and appropriately has “John” as his middle name) has taxed all of us against our will to fund his wall-building, since our elected parliamentary body did not designate funds for that purpose. The Supreme Court just sided with King John, overturning a key principle of the Magna Carta, the wellspring of democracy for 800 years.
There was further incremental evolution in this relationship. The 1688 Glorious Revolution ended the king’s ability to borrow money privately yet have the public be responsible for it. These developments inspired the Founding Fathers.
The World Bank explains,
- “By the beginning of the nineteenth century, the United States Congress already constrained executive discretion through detailed line item appropriations that prescribed the exact use of authorized expenditures, for instance by setting strict limits on specific expenses such as firewood and candles in particular offices. This tradition has its origins in colonial times, when legislatures were distrustful of British rule and invested much effort in scrutinizing administrative expenditures.”
This is the sort of incremental achievement of democratic limits on the executive that the Supreme Court just shat upon.”