Rep. Steve King of Iowa has long been an opponent of non-white immigration. King was an early, vocal supporter of then-candidate Donald Trump’s call to build a “beautiful” wall between the United States and Mexico to keep out the terrifying hordes of cantaloupe-calved brown people.
Alas, the devious Mexicans have stubbornly refused to collude with their essential role in Trump’s anti-Mexican crusade, and the Great Dealmaker has failed to persuade our neighbor to pay for his plan. So how, then, could America pay for this wall?
Steve King has an idea. And it’s just about the Steve-Kingiest idea you could imagine: “Steve King: Build border wall with funds from Planned Parenthood, food stamps.”
On Tuesday, the House Appropriations Committee introduced a spending bill that would allocate $1.6 billion toward building the wall separating the U.S. from Mexico. The funding is part of the total $13.8 billion for Customs and Border Protection.
King said he supports the spending measure, but he would prefer an additional $5 billion for the wall — and suggested taking the extra funding from Planned Parenthood and federal welfare programs.
“I would find half of a billion dollars of that right out of Planned Parenthood’s budget,” he told the Washington Examiner. “And the rest of it could come out of food stamps and the entitlements that are being spread out for people that haven’t worked in three generations.”
This is genius.
I mean, sure, there are some problems here with King’s basic arithmetic — Trump’s wall is likely to cost far more than King’s plan would provide. But who cares about arithmetic? Arithmetic is boring. And King’s fans will be too busy cheering his “De-fund Planned Parenthood to Build the Wall” plan to bother trying to do the math in their heads.
But what’s most interesting about King’s plan is what this suggests about the function of the border wall that he and Trump are so excited to build. Planned Parenthood “funding” is, after all, a very particular kind of government spending. And to receive that funding, the border wall will need to do what Planned Parenthood does now. It will need to provide affordable health services to low-income Americans.
See, “Planned Parenthood” isn’t a budget line in the federal budget. It’s a network of health clinics operating all across the U.S. Those clinics — like any other health clinic or hospital — provide health services which are then reimbursed by various levels of government through various programs (Medicaid, Medicare, SCHIP, etc.).
And, no, none of this has anything to do with abortions. Planned Parenthood doesn’t receive a dime in federal funding for abortions. That’s been the law for a generation now. Anybody who says they want to “de-fund Planned Parenthood” to stop taxpayer money from funding abortions is either lying to you, or they’re too silly and shallow to learn the first thing about something they claim to be upset about.
Since Planned Parenthood “funding” is reimbursement for health-services provided, redirecting that funding to the construction and maintenance of the border wall will mean that the wall will have to provide those same health services — check-ups, family planning, STD-testing, cancer-screenings, treatment of yeast infections, blood-pressure/diabetes consultation, smoking cessation, etc.
King’s planned cross-country health clinic would be especially good news for the people of Texas — where the Republican-controlled state government’s attempts to “de-fund” reimbursements for Planned Parenthood have had a series of disastrous public health effects (including a spike in the state’s teen abortion rate).
But the proposed location of King’s nationwide health clinic would be inconvenient for women (and men) who live in northern Texas. If you live in Dallas, the six-hour drive to Laredo to get your yeast infection treated might seem daunting. And it would be even worse for King’s own constituents in Iowa. Or for people from Michigan, or Maine, or Montana.
The distance for most Americans would be prohibitive. They’re just not going to have the time or the money to travel all the way to the southern border to access the services provided by King’s proposed Border-Wall Clinic.
And if people don’t go all the way to the Wall for those health services, then the Wall cannot provide such services and, therefore, cannot be reimbursed for them. That’s the thing about Planned Parenthood’s reimbursement “funding” — it’s conditional. If the services aren’t provided, the funding for those services doesn’t happen.
That means, of course, that the only way to ensure a steady stream of reliable funding for the King/Trump Border Wall would be to relocate it in thousands of decentralized locations closer to where most Americans already live.
I know we typically imagine a “Border Wall” as one long, crooked line twisting from Brownsville to San Diego, but Steve King is showing us that we need to get past that idea. King has told us how we’re going to fund this wall, and that funding is dependent on it being readily accessible for people all over America — particularly in medically underserved areas.
The Great Trumpian Border Wall, in other words, will need to look something like this:
And here’s the Very Good News for Rep. Steve King: Most of his proposed Border Wall is already fully operational! It’s already there, in place, and already receiving reimbursement/funding from the very same appropriations King wants to “redirect” to pay for it.
All we need to do, then, is change the name. Take down the old signs reading “Planned Parenthood” or “Women’s Clinic” or “Community Health Services” and put up shiny new signs reading “Border Wall.” We could easily have this done by the end of the year, allowing King and Trump to step before the cameras and brag about keeping their campaign promise to build a beautiful wall we can all be proud of.