President Donald Trump has not formally proposed a 20 percent tax on Mexican imports to pay for his controversial border wall and is instead considering it among a series of options, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Thursday.
“The goal today is not to be prescriptive. It’s to basically say: Hey, here is a way in which the wall can be paid for extremely easy and not say ‘this is what we’re doing,'” Spicer told reporters. “This is not what we’re rolling out.”
Spicer’s clarification came after an earlier statement signaling Trump favored the policy and had discussed the plan with congressional Republican leaders as part of a broader tax reform effort. Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said the 20 percent tax on Mexican imports is one of a “buffet of options.”
“When you look at the plan that’s taking shape now, using comprehensive tax reform as a means to tax imports from countries that we have a trade deficit from, like Mexico, if you tax that $50 billion at 20 percent of imports … By doing that we can do $10 billion a year and easily pay for the wall just through that mechanism alone. That’s really going to provide the funding,” Spicer said, calling it “ridiculous” to tax exports but let imports flow freely in.
Trump later was asked by NBC News about the 20 percent import tax and replied, “We’re going to tax people coming in. Look, we cannot lose our companies to Mexico or any other place and then have them make the product and just send it across our border free. We’re going to put a substantial tax on those countries.”
The news came on the heels of the decision Thursday to scrap an upcoming meeting between Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and President Donald Trump in the wake of a fiery spat over which nation will pay for a border wall between the two countries.
“This morning we informed the White House that I will not attend the business meeting scheduled for next Tuesday with the @POTUS,” Nieto tweeted.
Trump tweeted earlier Thursday that if Mexico refused to pay for the wall it might be best to cancel their upcoming meeting.
“The U.S. has a $60 billion dollar trade deficit with Mexico. It has been a one-sided deal from the beginning of NAFTA with massive numbers…,” Trump tweeted. “If Mexico is unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall, then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting.” Read More >>