With yet another continuing resolution spending bill on the table in Congress and a partial government shutdown looming, President Donald Trump demanded that Congress appropriate another $5 billion for border wall construction. The Democrats refused, insisting that Trump will just have to make do with the mere $1.6 billion they’ve already set aside for that purpose.
Trump initially threatened a government shutdown if he didn’t receive the requested funding. But Trump has now asked all his cabinet members to look for “existing funds” in their agencies that could be shifted toward the construction of the wall, in essence bypassing an obstinate Congress, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said.
“The president has asked every one of his cabinet secretaries to look for funding that can be used to protect our borders and give the president the ability to fulfill his constitutional obligation to protect the American people by having a secure border. We’re looking at other options,” Sanders said at Tuesday’s press briefing.
Taxpayers won’t be on the hook
Mentioning the “ballooning deficit” and the president’s prior promises that Mexico would pay for the wall, a reporter asked Sanders if taxpayers would be providing the additional funding needed for the wall.
“Look, we’re not asking American taxpayers for that. We’re looking at existing funding through other agencies right now that we can draw on to do that immediately,” said Sanders.
“The president has been clear that the (U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement) deal would provide additional revenue through that deal that would show that Mexico is paying for the wall,” she continued.
Reporter: Where are the additional monies for this wall going to come from and why is [Trump] asking the American taxpayer for them when he promised Mexico was going to pay?
Sanders: We’re not asking American taxpayers…We are looking at existing funding through other agencies pic.twitter.com/9YaXRL4UTG
— POLITICO (@politico) December 18, 2018
Additional revenue from new trade deal
The reporter failed to grasp that connection, though, and argued that any benefits gained through the trade deal wouldn’t go to the U.S. Treasury.
Sanders replied, “He’s saying that the revenue provided and the money that would be saved through the USMCA deal, we could pay for the wall four times over, and by doing that new trade deal we have the opportunity to pay for the wall.”
The reporter still failed to understand that Sanders was referring to additional tax revenue obtained through the trade deal, despite her explanations otherwise, and insisted any extra money from the trade deal would belong solely to the private businesses that earned it. He even questioned whether the White House had actually done the math to even know if they would garner any additional tax revenue from the trade deal.
Displaying a bit of impatience with the reporter, Sanders said, “We’re talking about additional revenue that wouldn’t have existed without the president getting a new deal.” In response to the math question, she replied, “There have been a number of things we’ve looked at in which we know we’ll have additional revenue that comes in through the USMCA … we think there’ll be more than that that comes in.”
President Trump is determined to find the funding for his border wall, whether directly through the congressional appropriations process or indirectly through the shifting of existing funds in the administration’s coffers … and he plans for Mexico to “pay for it” in effect through the restructured trade deal and additional tax revenues derived from more balanced trade with Mexico.