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Border wall would be drop in bucket for military budget
Donald Trumpís presidency is nothing if not exciting, and his threat to veto the omnibus spending bill over lack of funding for a border wall with Mexico was only a minor blip in the overall scheme of things.
Grandstanding aside, his suggestion that the wall be built with Defense Department funds is intriguing when one looks at the numbers.
The $1.3 trillion spending bill included $1.6 billion in border wall funding, but those are restricted to repairing existing sections and building only certain types of barriers. Trump had asked for $25 billion at the last minute.
How much would a border wall cost? That depends on whom you ask.
The National Precast Concrete Association says it could be built for a bargain $8 billion, not including cost of the land.
Trump, Sen. Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryon say $12-15 billion. Others say $8 million to nearly $18 million per mile, and Sen. Clair McCaskill (D-Missouri) estimates nearly $67 billion total.
Meanwhile, the U.S. military accounted for 54 percent of all federal discretionary spending, for nearly $600 billion in 2015.
The Congressional Budget Office estimated the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would cost $2.4 trillion by 2017, including interest, since combat is financed with borrowed money.
The Congressional Research Service estimated in 2014 that Iraq and Afghanistan wars had cost the U.S. about $1.6 trillion from 2004 to 2014, including $686 billion in Afghanistan, $815 billion in Iraq, and $27 billion for enhanced security at military bases.
It would take only one major terror attack, via a porous southern border, for a dramatic shift in U.S. attitudes.
Compared to the overall military budget, $25 billion for a border wall is coffee money.