Carlos Barria | Bloomberg | Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during an address on border security in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019.
President Donald Trump’s lunchtime prediction to broadcasters on Tuesday was right. His televised speech didn’t change a “damn thing” about the government shutdown. He’s still losing the fight.
Addressing Americans from the Oval Office, Trump at times offered a somewhat softer justification for his border wall demands in a bid to spur Democratic defections. He decried the “cycle of human suffering” produced by illegal border crossings, hurting African-Americans, Latinos, women and children.
But the president announced no new policies and made no new substantive arguments. Neither did Democratic congressional leaders Nancy Pelosi and Charles Schumer when they followed his remarks with their own.
As a result, the shutdown approaches its fourth week. Costs are rising for businesses and individuals reliant on government services, for federal workers poised to miss paychecks on Friday, and for the broader economy.
During the budget impasse that produced it, Trump proclaimed his willingness to accept responsibility for the shutdown. A new Reuters-Ipsos poll shows he has gotten his wish, as a 51 percent majority assign him “most of the blame.” That figure is 4 percentage points higher from a previous Reuters-Ipsos poll that was taken just as the shutdown started before Christmas.
It’s not just the governmental mess that most Americans oppose. Polls have consistently shown that a majority opposes the demand, arising from Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, that provoked it: construction of a “great wall” across America’s border with Mexico.
Thus Republicans, who had other priorities, didn’t approve it when they controlled Congress in 2017-18. There’s scant evidence a border wall would reduce the myriad dangers Trump associates with illegal immigration, from violent crime to terrorism to drug addiction to stagnant wages.