As the partial federal government shutdown nears its fourth week, this protracted battle is entering a new phase. With each passing day, the stakes get higher and the consequences of the shutdown grow.
On January 11, federal workers will miss their first paycheck. You can expect a raft of human-interest stories from a national news media desperate to ensure President Trump loses this battle.
This week appeared to mark a shift in the White House strategy.
Mr. Trump delivered a national address that focused on the facts of the situation: More than 400,000 illegal immigrants were apprehended last year alone and unaccompanied minors and illegal immigrant families are flooding the border, overwhelming our government’s ability to process, hold and remove them.
The president then detailed several recent high-profile cases of violent crimes committed by illegal immigrants. The current situation is untenable. It is fair to call it a “crisis,” whether the left wants to or not.
How is this a crisis?
Where once the border was being crossed by single illegal immigrant men, whom our government could quickly process and deport, now families and children are arriving as a group, vastly complicating the current system.
Democrats have made no concessions. They barely participate in bipartisan meetings. They demand Mr. Trump relinquish all his leverage before they will negotiate. Despite controlling one half of one-third of government, they act as though they control all three branches.
The president appears undeterred. He rightly sees this as a national security issue. He believes using a wall (or physical barrier) in urban areas will reduce illegal border crossings and filter foot traffic to other areas, making it easier for the Border Patrol to deploy its resources more effectively.
You would not know it from the national media, but the White House is winning this argument.
Democrats cannot explain why they voted for 700 miles of fence in 2006 and offered $25 billion in border security funding less than a year ago, but now oppose the $5 billion Mr. Trump is requesting. Democrats gave the president $1.3 billion last year which his administration has been deploying.
The Acela corridor shrieked when the White House announced that the president would give a national address from the Oval Office. They demanded the networks provide real-time fact checking. Congressional Democrats demanded equal time, so they were given a response right after Mr. Trump finished.
Democrats clearly were worried that Mr. Trump would be able to deliver his message directly to tens of millions of people, bypassing the filter of the national media.
Compromise clearly will be required to reach a deal that can pass the Democratic-controlled House, earn at least 60 votes in the Senate, and obtain President Trump’s signature. But the Democratic position of refusing to negotiate is not sustainable.
President Trump should hammer the Democrats every day until they agree to deal.
The White House should detail the narcotics threat, the human trafficking reality and the violence on the border every single day until this battle ends. They should target every Democrat who has voted for border security funding in the past and spotlight their hypocrisy now.
In a $4 trillion federal budget, a line item of $5 billion is a rounding error. If you spent $5 billion every day for a year, you would not spend half of the annual federal budget.
This isn’t about the money. Democrats want to deny the president the ability to fulfill a signature promise and they refuse to negotiate until he relinquishes his leverage.
The president shows no signs of giving in, nor should he. Democrats have a weak hand and they are playing it poorly.
• Matt Mackowiak is president of Austin, Texas, and Washington, D.C.-based Potomac Strategy Group. He’s a Republican consultant, a Bush administration and Bush-Cheney re-election campaign veteran and former press secretary to two U.S. senators.