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Media pretending pretty hard that Trump's plan to pay for the Mexico wall has changed
When they know perfectly well how he plans to make Mexico pay for it.
We'll deal next week with the larger question of how the mainstream media is fake news every bit as much as some of those dopey links you share on social media, but they're giving us a perfect example today.
You probably heard this morning that - stunner! - Trump now plans to ask Congress to appropriate money to pay for the Mexico wall. Wait! What about making Mexico pay for it! He's walking it back!
Let's leave aside for the moment that "walking it back" is about the stupidest phrase ever, and only political types use it. Here's what Trump actually said:
The dishonest media does not report that any money spent on building the Great Wall (for sake of speed), will be paid back by Mexico later!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 6, 2017
This follows an indication from the transition team that Trump expects to ask Congress for the money as part of the normal appropriation process. There was never any other way it could be done, but CNN would have you believe this is a bombshell and a broken Trump promise:
President-elect Donald Trump's transition team has signaled to congressional Republican leaders that his preference is to fund the border wall through the appropriations process as soon as April, according to House Republican officials.
The move would break a key campaign promise when Trump repeatedly said he would force Mexico to pay for the construction of the wall along the border, though in October, Trump suggested for the first time that Mexico would reimburse the US for the cost of the wall.
I was going to say CNN is either totally dishonest or completely ignorant about how the federal government pays for its own operations, but I'm not sure the two can't both be true. The federal government can't just accept a check from the Mexican government and then endorse it over to building contractors working on a wall. Anything you do will require a congressional appropriation, no matter how you account for the revenue that came in.
Anyway, the Washington Post reported back in April how Trump actually planned to make Mexico pay:
In the memo, Trump said he would threaten to change a rule under the USA Patriot Act antiterrorism law to cut off a portion of the funds sent to Mexico through money transfers, commonly known as remittances. The threat would be withdrawn if Mexico made “a one-time payment of $5-10 billion” to pay for the border wall, he wrote.
“It’s an easy decision for Mexico,” Trump said in the memo, on campaign stationery emblazoned with “TRUMP Make America Great Again!”
After the wall was funded, Trump wrote, transfer payments could continue “to flow into their country year after year.” He gave the memo to The Post in response to a written question provided to him before an interview last week.
Nearly $25 billion was sent home by Mexicans living abroad in 2015, mostly in the form of money transfers, according to the Mexican central bank. In his memo, Trump said that “the majority of that amount comes from illegal aliens.”
To be sure, the Post story also raised some questions about the viability of the plan, and some of the questions are legitimate. But the media are being completely disingenuous acting like a congressional appropriation means Trump is backing away from Mexico paying. There's going to be a congressional appropriation no matter where we get the money, and it's a show of how serious Trump is that he plans to go ahead and ask for the money now rather than enter into some painstaking negotiation with Mexico and potentially use problems with those talks as an excuse not to build the wall.
That's what most other politicians would do. I still think it will be an astonishing development if this thing actually gets built because there are so many political headwinds blowing against it. But Trump is clearly moving forward as if it's a go, and that alone is a first.
Dan's new novel, BACKSTOP, is a story of spiritual warfare and baseball. Download it from Amazon here!