Trump is embarrassingly incoherent on plan to pay for Mexico border wall


President-elect Donald Trump has raised anew the controversy surrounding his proposed border wall with Mexico by tweeting that American taxpayers will pay for it, but will surely be reimbursed by Mexico. But any Trump voters who feel burned by this should have paid attention before the election.

Donald Trump began his presidential campaign by calling Mexican immigrants "rapists," and went on to make the building of a border wall with Mexico a central pillar of his campaign rhetoric, all the while insisting that Mexico would pay for the wall.

Now, Trump has qualified that, by saying that U.S. taxpayers will fund the absurd barrier, and Mexico will "reimburse" us later:

This revelation is being treated like the bombshell that it is, not just because it is a ridiculous premise, but because it is a total contradiction of hundreds of campaign speeches in which he brashly insisted that Mexico would pay for the wall.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee denounced the plan in a statement emailed to Shareblue:

“House Republicans and Donald Trump have wasted no time in breaking their promise to voters by preparing to waste massive amounts of American taxpayer money on an infeasible wall instead of focusing on rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, creating jobs, and more effective approaches to improving our national security,” said DCCC Spokesman Tyler Law. “There’s no question that Republicans across the country must answer as to why they think lighting taxpayer money on fire and blowing a hole in the deficit should be a top priority, especially for this impractical and ineffective wall.”

Trump's defense that Mexico will eventually pay is as hollow as his original promise. CNN also reports that even if Trump managed to execute all of the dodgy plans he has to get Mexico to "reimburse" the U.S., he would still be $7-$9 billion short:

Trump himself has estimated his border wall would cost $8 billion, though other analysts have estimated the price would be as much as $10 billion. And the proposals Trump has outlined to coerce Mexico into paying for the wall involve controversial measures that would still likely fail to cover the wall's full cost.

According to Trump's website, those steps could include: remittance seizure, potential tariffs and foreign aids cuts, increasing fees on temporary visas issued to Mexican CEOs and diplomats, increasing fees on border crossing cards, increasing fees on NAFTA worker visas; and increasing fees at ports of entry to the US from Mexico.

A major challenge for judging Trump's proposal is that most of those steps amount to a drop in the bucket -- less than $1 billion -- compared to the proposed cost of the wall. And the one step that could provide the required amount of money -- remittance seizure -- would face major legal obstacles, in addition to the likelihood of severe domestic and international backlash.

And that is without mentioning the $236 billion in U.S. exports to Mexico that could be endangered by such moves.

Which is to say nothing of the diplomatic disaster being created with one of our closest allies. Former Mexican President Vicente Fox, who has previously denounced in no uncertain terms Trump's plan to send Mexico the bill for his wall, tweeted fresh criticism:

Although 73.6 million of us saw through Trump's ruse, the 62,979,636 people who voted for Trump should have seen this coming. After spending more than a year promising that Mexico would pay for his absurd wall, in the closing weeks of his campaign, Trump floated the exact idea he is now pitching:

The End Illegal Immigration Act fully funds the construction of a wall on our southern border — don't worry about it, remember I said Mexico's paying for the wall —with the full understanding that the country Mexico will be reimbursing the United States for the full cost of such a wall. Okay? We're going to have the wall, Mexico's going to pay for the wall.

Now, Trump is trying to lie his way out of this trap, too. Trump sent out his incoming White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway Friday morning to tell Chris Cuomo that the reimbursement idea was Congress', but reporting by CNN suggests it was the Trump transition team who approached congressional Republicans with the plan, as does the fact that he proposed it before he was was even elected.

Unfortunately, con-men like Trump thrive on the notion that their marks would rather continue to believe obvious lies, rather than admit they were gulled.

Even more unfortunately, those of us who were not taken in will also pay the price, whether in actual dollars for his wall or in the precious cost of our nation's standing around the world. Or both.