No, Trump doesn’t have a plan to reduce cost of his $21 billion-plus border wall

U.S. taxpayers are on the hook for Trump’s increasingly expensive vanity project.

An agent of the border patrol, observes near the Mexico-US border fence, on the Mexican side, separating the towns of Anapra, Mexico and Sunland Park, New Mexico, on January 25. CREDIT: AP Photo/Christian Torres
An agent of the border patrol, observes near the Mexico-US border fence, on the Mexican side, separating the towns of Anapra, Mexico and Sunland Park, New Mexico, on January 25. CREDIT: AP Photo/Christian Torres

The projected cost for President Donald Trump’s border wall continues to rise, and Trump has no good plan to contain it.

On Thursday, Reuters reported that the border wall will be much more expensive than the $10 billion figure Trump repeatedly cited during his campaign or the $12–$15 billion cited by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) last month.

“Trump’s ‘wall’ along the U.S.-Mexico border would be a series of fences and walls that would cost as much as $21.6 billion, and take more than three years to construct,” Reuters reported, citing a U.S. Department of Homeland Security document the outlet obtained.

And it could end up costing even more than that.

“Bernstein Research, an investment research group that tracks material costs, has said that uncertainties around the project could drive its cost up to as much as $25 billion,” Reuters reports.

On Saturday morning, Trump responded to that news by assuring Americans that costs of constructing the wall will come “WAY DOWN” as soon as he gets involved in the negotiations.

But Trump’s citation of the reduced cost of F-35s should give no one confidence he’ll be able to bring down the exorbitant cost of his border wall.

That’s because on January 30, Trump took credit for cost cuts to the fighter jets that were already put in place before he got involved. A Washington Post fact-check gave Trump’s claim that he was responsible for cutting $600 million from the F-35 program “Four Pinocchios.”

“Trump, yet again, claims credit for decisions that were already made before he became president,” the Post’s Michelle Ye Hee Lee wrote. “The Pentagon had already announced cost reductions of roughly $600 million before Trump began meeting with Lockheed Martin’s chief executive.”

And despite tweeting that the cost of new Air Force One planes are “out of control” in December, Trump has yet to strike a deal with Boeing to bring costs down.

Trump has repeatedly taken credit for deals that were in the works long before he won the election or became president. For instance, he’s overstated his role in deals with Intel, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, Ford, and Sprint to take credit for saving American jobs.

It’s notable that Trump is concerned about the wall’s cost in the first place, given that during the campaign he repeatedly pledged he’d make Mexico pay for it. Unsurprisingly, Mexican officials say they won’t do that. Trump’s plan is to have U.S. taxpayers pay for it while promising them he’ll somehow make Mexico reimburse the United States down the line.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer recently told reporters the wall could be paid for “by imposing a 20 percent tax on all imports into the United States from Mexico.” But after widespread concern that a blanket tax on Mexican imports would increases costs for American consumers, the White House walked it back.

Last year, Reuters reported that U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents don’t think the type of border wall Trump has long supported is necessary for national security. Instead, they seek better equipment and technology.