Give Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach this much: He sure is consistent in supporting one of Donald Trump’s most inane and costly ideas.
On Thursday, Kobach put on his best smug smile and told reporters in Topeka that U.S. taxpayers should shell out to build a border wall between America and Mexico if that country won’t pay for it (as stated by Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto).
Putting this new financial burden on Americans didn’t seem to bother Kobach.
He told reporters that, “Compared to the larger Department of Homeland Security budget, (the cost) would be a drop in the bucket. I mean, the budget is huge.” (Video by Star reporter Hunter Woodall here.)
Kobach later repeated the word “huge” and basically made it sound like shaking money out of the Homeland budget would be as easy as pie.
So I looked up the department’s annual budget Thursday afternoon.
Overall, it’s about $40 billion a year when it comes to discretionary spending.
The cost of the wall — which Kobach ball-parked to reporters at $15 billion — obviously would be almost 40 percent of an annual Homeland budget. And that might be a low-ball estimate; a study by the Washington Post pegged the wall’s cost at around $25 billion.
Of course, the wall would be built (I know, it won’t ever happen, but play along) over a matter of years.
At five years, that would be “only” $3 billion to $5 billion annually using Kobach’s estimate.
That’s a smaller portion of the $40 billion Homeland budget. But it’s certainly not as insignificant as Kobach made it sound.
Here’s the angle that’s even more important than those rough projections.
What would Kobach, Trump and others slice from the Homeland budget to free up this $15 billion to $25 billion?
The secretary of state is implying that there’s plenty of waste in the current “huge” budget, even though it contains billions of dollars a year for all kinds of programs meant to secure America.
They include the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is constantly swamped with requests from people affected by natural disasters; U.S. Customs and Border Protection, an agency Kobach and Trump certainly wouldn’t be able to cut if a new wall were built; the U.S. Coast Guard; and the Transportation Security Administration, which provides security checks at U.S. airports.
It’s easy for Kobach to get cheap publicity for the Mexico border wall and his support for it.
But when you peel back the curtain and look into the words he’s spewing about it, they don’t make a lot of sense.