Letters to the Editor

Emergency declaration not a distraction

A recent letter criticizing President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration launched a salvo of half truths (“Emergency declaration is a distraction,” Feb. 23).

It’s true President Barack Obama grew the national debt by 74 percent, versus the 101 percent of President George W. Bush. But in actual dollars, Obama’s increase was a jaw-dropping $8.6 trillion, about 46 percent greater than his predecessor.

It’s also true Obama inherited an economic mess, but one largely the result of economic mismanagement by his fellow Democrats. The Clinton administration, wielding the legislative weaponry of the Community Reinvestment Act, conducted a shakedown of banks, coercing them to extend easy credit to myriad marginal borrowers. This inspired a yearslong orgy of overbuilding and imprudent lending. When motor fuel prices exploded in 2008, commuters faced the choice between filling their tanks and servicing their housing debt. The resulting collapse from a tsunami of defaults triggered the crash.

Actually, presidents don’t raise the national debt. Congress does that. While presidents may request funding, Congress is free to approve those requests — or thumb its collective nose, as does today’s House of Representatives.

The cost of building an effective border wall is pocket change compared to the mounting societal and governmental costs resulting from failure to adequately protect that border. This is a genuine emergency.

Dale Fitzgibbons

Cedar Rapids

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