Sean Spicer, White House press secretary, has alerted the media that Donald Trump is considering imposing a twenty percent tax on imports to fund his Mexican wall project. Soon thereafter, he revoked the support.
Said Spicer, “When you look at the plan that’s taking shape now, using comprehensive tax reform as a means to tax imports from countries that we have a trade deficit from, like Mexico… If you tax that $50 billion at 20 percent of imports – which is, by the way, a practice that 160 other countries do – right now our country’s policy is to tax exports and let imports flow freely in, which is ridiculous. By doing it, that we can do $10 billion a year and easily pay for the wall just through that mechanism alone. That’s really going to provide the funding.”
“This is something that we’ve been in close contact with both houses in moving forward and creating a plan. It clearly provides the funding and does so in a way that the American taxpayer is wholly respected.”
Spicer later used language that was much more ambiguous and lower-commitment, and suggested that the import tax was only one option among many being considered.
The plan would be a step towards Trump’s campaign promise that Mexico will foot the bill for the wall’s construction. That promise is not shaping up as one that can be fulfilled without leaning heavily on American dollars, in the form of increased taxes or, in the case of the proposed import tax, forwarded price hikes in imported goods.
Trump appears to be ramping up to at least attempt to follow through on his proposed immigration policies. On Wednesday, he took executive actions that are punitive against illegal immigrants, including setting aside funds for the wall. Paul Ryan said that Congress would develop a strategy to pay for it.
The Trump administration is, understandably, being stonewalled by the Mexican government. Today, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto canceled a meeting with Trump, as per Trump’s suggestion. Trump was also the subject of a scorching Tweet from former Mexican President Vicente Fox.
Said Trump of Nieto’s cancellation, “I’ve said many times that the American people will not pay for the wall. And I’ve made that clear to the government of Mexico. To that end, the president of Mexico and myself have agreed to cancel our planned meeting scheduled for next week. Unless Mexico is going to treat the United States fairly, with respect, such a meeting would be fruitless and I want to go a different route. We have no choice.”