With the government shutdown over for three weeks, the president will have opportunity to present Congress with his reasoning for a border wall. A project of this size and importance deserves and requires extensive research and planning.

Typical elements are: a specific description of the problem, cost/benefit analysis, efficiency studies, comparisons of alternatives, environmental impacts, historical background and trends, time and cost frameworks, data about public support, and such. These are the convincing elements that any one pitching a project to a funding source must present, or that any competent CEO would require before spending the investors’ money. Those overseeing expenditure of taxpayer dollars need the same information.

President Trump campaigned as a businessman, promising to approach his administration in a businesslike manner. If the president has been doing the planning for this request, he has not yet presented it in a coherent way. Enthusiastic response in rallies is not research, is not reasoned, and is not convincing. Offering as proof repeated statements which are questionable and refutable undermines the credibility of his argument. Anecdotes intended to excite fears do not sufficiently establish need.

If he has assembled research over the last two years, hopefully he can present a comprehensive evidence-based case to Congress.

I hope the president realizes that repeating unreasoned demands and threats will be no more effective nor constructive than it has been. I hope he understands he cannot declare a national emergency without credible evidence. This will be especially true after Congress has spent weeks deliberating the needs for border security by considering all available information.

Any student is expected to “show your work,” to “explain why” and to “list your sources.” Congress requires no less in budgeting the taxpayers’ money.

Roger Niesen

Crescent City