If taxpayers gave the president billions of dollars to build the wall on the southern border that he promised he’d get Mexico to fund, America would save billions.
That’s what President Donald Trump claimed on Twitter Monday morning, arguing the United States “would save Billions of Dollars if the Democrats would give us the votes to build the Wall.”
We would save Billions of Dollars if the Democrats would give us the votes to build the Wall. Either way, people will NOT be allowed into our Country illegally! We will close the entire Southern Border if necessary. Also, STOP THE DRUGS!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 3, 2018
It’s unclear what the president meant, or how exactly he expects the government to realize savings thanks to a completed wall. Apart from the odd conservative op-ed arguing that building the wall would stop undocumented immigrants and drugs from crossing (it would not), which would stop remittances (something that would increase poverty in Central America and increase incentives for migration into America), there’s no rationale for the wall actually saving anyone money.
An article about the tweet from the Washington Examiner failed to mention Trump’s repeated promises to get Mexico to pay for the wall, and it also neglected to explain how the wall would save America billions of dollars.
Spending taxpayer money to build the wall is less popular than even Trump himself, a September NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found.
It’s also unclear how much a wall would actually cost — the president is asking for $5 billion to start construction, but he had previously estimated the cost to be $12 billion, while an internal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) memo put the low-end cost estimate at $21.6 billion.
A recent GAO watchdog report found that “DHS faces an increased risk that the Border Wall System Program will cost more than projected, take longer than planned, or not fully perform as expected.”
The threat comes amid a budget battle that could result in part of the government shutting down this week (if no extension gets passed before Friday) or later this month (if a short-term extension get passed, but there’s no larger agreement over wall funding). This is how the Trump White House and the Republican-controlled Congress is choosing to spend its lame-duck session before the Democrats take control of the House in January.
Trump also said in his tweet that he needs Democratic votes to “build the wall” — which suggests that the president does realize that he has not yet begun to build the wall, even though he has repeatedly claimed that he is already building it.