Trump changes tune on pay­ment.

Cam­paign had memo of plan

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY STEPHEN DINAN

Pres­i­dent Trump said Thurs­day he never in­tended to ask Mex­ico to write out a check for the bor­der wall.

But that is, in fact, ex­actly one of the pro­pos­als he made in his cam­paign’s white pa­per la­beled “Pay for the Wall.” In that plan, the pres­i­dent said Mex­ico could “make a one-time pay­ment of $5-10 bil­lion” to fund the wall and head off any even­tual pain.

Now Mr. Trump says that was never a real op­tion.

“Dur­ing the cam­paign, I would say, ‘Mex­ico is go­ing to pay for it.’ Ob­vi­ously, I never said this and I never meant they’re go­ing to write out a check,” Mr. Trump told re­porters Thurs­day, just be­fore jet­ting to Texas to visit the bor­der.

In­stead, the pres­i­dent now says he will soak Mex­ico through the new trade deal he ne­go­ti­ated, though Congress must still ap­prove it.

The White House has said in­creased trade and man­u­fac­tur­ing in the U.S. will boost the econ­omy, which means more tax rev­enue com­ing in. Econ­o­mists doubt his num­bers, say­ing there’s no ev­i­dence any ad­di­tional growth would be enough to pro­duce tens of bil­lions of dol­lars of tax rev­enue.

Mr. Trump, in his cam­paign pay-for plan, had men­tioned the trade deal as a fac­tor, but de­scribed it in terms of a cud­gel to be used to force Mex­ico to step up and pay.

“By def­i­ni­tion, if you have a large trade deficit with a na­tion, it means they are sell­ing far more to you than the re­verse — thus they, not you, stand to lose from en­forc­ing trade rules through tar­iffs,” his plan said.

Other op­tions floated in the plan in­cluded can­cel­ing visas of Mex­i­cans as a pun­ish­ment, rais­ing visa fees and us­ing the money to pay for the wall, or im­pos­ing a tax on re­mit­tances, or cash, sent by Mex­i­cans work­ing in the U.S. to rel­a­tives back home in Mex­ico.

“We have the lever­age, so Mex­ico will back down,” Mr. Trump said in his plan.

Three years later Mex­ico has shown no change in its ve­he­ment re­jec­tion of pay­ing for the wall.

And the cost has risen well be­yond Mr. Trump’s ini­tial es­ti­mate of $5 bil­lion to $10 bil­lion.

His lat­est full-wall re­quest to­taled $25 bil­lion, while the par­tial re­quest he made in the shut­down ne­go­ti­a­tions of $5.7 bil­lion would build just 235 miles.

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