On Tuesday, during a public meeting with Democratic congressional leaders, President Trump threatened to shut down the government if he did not receive billions of dollars to construct his border wall.
On Thursday morning, he completely undercut his argument by asserting that Mexico was paying for the wall because of the money America saves from the USMCA, which is the name for the new version of NAFTA Trump hopes to implement.
I often stated, “One way or the other, Mexico is going to pay for the Wall.” This has never changed. Our new deal with Mexico (and Canada), the USMCA, is so much better than the old, very costly & anti-USA NAFTA deal, that just by the money we save, MEXICO IS PAYING FOR THE WALL!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 13, 2018
Over the past two years, Trump’s major campaign promise — that he would build a wall on the southern border and get Mexico to pay for it — transformed first into Mexico reimbursing America for the wall, then into claims that the wall was already being built, and then into demands that Congress fund the wall construction or he would shut down the government.
Now Trump has cut out the reality of needing to actually fund the construction of the wall by claiming that the trade agreement would provide the money needed.
This ignores a few things:
- Trump’s USMCA (the United States-Mexico-Canada-Agreement) is NAFTA with a few tweaks — none of which will put the billions of dollars back into the U.S. Treasury from Mexico’s government to compensate taxpayers to pay for the construction of the wall.
- The USMCA is not yet in force, and won’t be for quite a while. Even though Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto signed the agreement last month, lawmakers in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico must vote to approve it (Mexico calls it MUSCA and Canada calls it CUSMA). The Democrats who will run the House are demanding changes to the agreement, and progress in Mexico and Canada is also slow.
- There’s no way for Trump to know even what the economic or budgetary impact of the agreement would be, because a report by the U.S. International Trade Commission assessing this won’t be released until next year.
- It’s not clear, if Trump is so sure he has the money for the wall, why he so publicly demanded Democrats in Congress vote to fund wall construction.
The federal government faces a partial shutdown next week over Trump’s demand for wall funding — which he just admitted is not necessary because Mexico is already footing the bill.