John Oliver takes the Trump border wall to task
Comedian and faux-newsman John Oliver is no stranger to takedowns of Donald Trump. Last month, he spent an entire 22 minutes of of his 30-minute show “Last Week Tonight” slamming the Republican frontrunner for just about every one of his well-documented political positions. Now Oliver and his behind-the-scenes team are narrowing the focus of their satire.
In Sunday’s episode, they honed in on Trump's notorious proposal for a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
Pressed for details, Trump recently put a price tag on the wall, and his highest quoted figure came in around $13 billion. Immediately the experts came in slashing the figure to pieces. Oliver isn’t the first to make the point, but he makes it with gusto.
In short, Trump's border wall is a budgetary nightmare, one that promises few results.
By the episode's end, Oliver and his team calculated that a border wall would cost at least $25 billion — about $12 billion more than Trump’s highest quoted projection. But Oliver doesn't stop there. That figure doesn't even factor in costs like moving burdensome materials and equipment into barren regions of the map that aren't accessible by car. You'd have to build roads in order to build the wall. Don't forget the engineering, planning and design costs, either.
“But wait, because we're still not done," Oliver says. "All of that is just building the wall. The Congressional Budget Office estimated ... that wall maintenance costs would exceed the initial construction costs within seven years. So it's a big, dumb thing that only gets more expensive over time. It's like getting a pet walrus. You think it's stupid now? Wait until you learn what a bucket of sea cucumbers costs."
And Oliver's math is based on the low-end Trump scheme of a 35-foot wall. A larger wall would substantially increase the cost. But even at this rate, Oliver estimates that Trump wall would cost U.S. taxpayers about $77 a piece, leading him to this counterproposal by the end of his bit:
“If the main thing [the wall is] going to get us is a warm sense of satisfaction inside, then I suggest instead of building that wall, we use the money to buy every man, woman and child in America a Palmer Waffle Iron," Oliver says, referring to the $75-dollar breakfast maker.
Ludicrous is, as always, Oliver's preferred method of making his point. He rounds out the segment thus:
“I know what you’re thinking: ‘John, this is a stupid idea. But is it? Is it really? Yes, obviously, it is. But is it significantly stupider than Donald Trump’s wall? Because, this waffle-iron plan will cost less, it will do nearly as much to keep out immigrants and drugs, it won’t harm our relationship with our third-largest trading partner. If it is racist, it’s only toward Belgians, and unlike Donald Trump’s wall, this makes f**ing waffles! So come on, America! Let’s ask ourselves, what kind of country do we want to wake up to? One that spends billions on an impossible, impractical symbol of fear? Or one that smells like breakfast?”