For Trump's Wall, Mexico Is Out! Government Shutdown Is In!

CNN/ Newswire | 8/25/2017, 8:59 a.m.
Wait a minute. Wasn't Mexico supposed to pay for the wall? Mexico didn't even come up when President Donald Trump ...
Construction on prototypes for President Donald Trump's long-promised border wall has been delayed until winter 2017 at the earliest after bidders who were passed over filed protests about the decision, according to an update obtained by CNN.

By Z. Byron Wolf, CNN

(CNN) -- Wait a minute. Wasn't Mexico supposed to pay for the wall?

Mexico didn't even come up when President Donald Trump vowed yet again to build the wall during a campaign rally (yes, it was an official Trump campaign re-election rally) in Phoenix on Tuesday night.

The crowd, which ate up the red meat Trump threw them during the frenzied, peripatetic event, didn't seem to notice.

Now, instead of threatening Mexico, Trump is threatening a government shutdown if Congress doesn't make US taxpayers open their coffers to build the border wall.

"And we are building a wall on the southern border, which is absolutely necessary," he declared.

"Build that wall! Build that wall! Build that wall!" the crowd chanted back at him.

"Build that wall," he said back. "Now the obstructionist Democrats would like us not to do it. But believe me, if we have to close down our government, we're building that wall. Let me be very clear to Democrats in Congress who oppose a border wall and stand in the way of border security: You are putting all of America's safety at risk. You're doing that. You're doing that."

Let's set aside for now the incredible political brinksmanship he's engaging in here by threatening a government shutdown that a majority of the public and a fair number of the lawmakers in his own party don't think is necessary. Let's also set aside the likelihood that a government shutdown could backfire.

How far we've come since the campaign, when then-candidate Trump would invite crowds into a call-and-response about his proposed border wall with: "And who's going to pay for it?"

"Mexico!!!" they'd respond.

Now he's President, however. And building the wall is going to be a bit more difficult than he promised it would be. And quite expensive. Somehow, crowds chanting "Mexico is going to pay for it!" has turned into his crowds cheering about paying for the wall, if only Democrats will let them.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi dismissed the idea that Democrats would cave easily and give their blessing to the wall and its price tag in a tweet Wednesday.

".@POTUS' attempt to bully taxpayers into funding his immoral & expensive border wall is completely unacceptable," she said.

Democrats aren't the only ones who need to be convinced.

The House has, it should be said, OKed $1.6 billion to get started on the border wall in a spending bill passed in July.

That's a fraction of what will be needed to build the wall Trump promised and it was a fraction of the spending bill Republicans slipped it into. It wasn't just Democrats House GOP leaders had to wheel around to get that funding; they tucked it into an otherwise unrelated defense measure, according to CNN's report at the time from Deirdre Walsh and Jeremy Herb. (How much will the wall cost? More than $21 billion, according to an internal DHS memo.)

There's a good chance Trump never actually believed Mexico would pay for the wall, by the way. A short-lived proposal for a 20% import tax on Mexico caused a stir and has since been walked back. Other proposals, like a tax on remittances or seizing money from drug cartels are equally difficult or impractical.