Politics

Bonds and Blockchain: These Republicans Want to Crowdfund the Wall

‘An alternative way to safely invest in border security’

Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-Miss., has proposed using Treasury bonds to finance an expansion of the Southern border wall. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

With the government on the brink of a shutdown due to a demand by the White House for $5 billion in taxpayer funds to lengthen the barrier along the Mexican border, a Mississippi congressman has introduced legislation to fund an expansion of the wall through savings bonds.

Republican Rep. Steven Palazzo proposed leveraging special U.S. Treasuries called “border bonds” to finance an expansion of the Southern border wall on Monday, the Sun Herald reported.

Palazzo described his Border Bonds for America Act as “an alternative way to safely invest in border security” on Facebook.

“It is a safe investment into the safety and security of our country,” he wrote.

The 4th District congressman likened the urgency of “American security” at the Mexican border to the demands of World War II in a statement to the Herald.

“During World War II, 85 million Americans purchased $185 billion in war bonds and financially supported our troops while they were defending our country,” Palazzo said. “This legislation would allow for the patriots of today’s era to help support American security in the same way as previous generations.”

The legislation follows a similar proposal by Ohio Rep. Warren Davidson to create a “Border Wall Trust Fund” at the U.S. Treasury Department with the flexibility of a crowdfunding site like GoFundMe. Davidson introduced the Buy a Brick, Build a Wall Act in late November.

The 8th District Republican invoked the concept of blockchain in the context of border wall funding in an interview with National Public Radio last week, and his use of the term “wall coins” got some attention.

Davidson’s office later clarified that the congressman’s proposals on financing the border wall and blockchain are separate, pointing out that the text of the Buy a Brick, Build a Wall Act makes no mention of cryptocurrency. 

Davidson referred to “wall coins” in order to “highlight his overall vision of breaking down barriers and making it easier for people to raise capital for their projects,” spokesman Matthew Henderson said. 

Both Palazzo and Davidson have described the 2016 presidential election as a mandate to construct a longer wall at the southern border. But during his campaign, President Donald Trump repeatedly assured voters that the Mexican government would pay for it.

It is not clear why bonds or a trust fund would be preferable to raising the money through taxes. 

The border showdown coincides with renewed scrutiny of the use of force by U.S. Customs and Border Protection following the recent death of a 7-year-old girl in its custody and the deployment of tear gas on children and asylum seekers last month.

Achieving $5 billion in fundraising will be difficult, even for a cause the president has championed, if statistics on Americans’ charitable contributions are a guide. For example, the Barack Obama Foundation garnered roughly $250 million in revenue last year.

And the charity that drew the most fundraising from cash and stock in 2017 was the United Way at just $3.3 billion, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

Watch: Pelosi on Trump Shutdown, Border Wall, Mexico and Press Coverage

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