As President Trump appears to fold on his funding request for a border wall, though tweet-xclaiming “it will get built and help stop drugs, human trafficking etc.,” a top Mexican official on Tuesday said that Mexico may consider charging a fee for Americans entering the country in what could be seen as a retaliation to President Trump’s posturing.
Trump has asked congress to include a down payment on the wall in the spending bill but because of scrutiny from both sides, the President announced Monday that he’d be willing to wait until September to revisit the issue of funding; however, his stance on Mexico’s role in paying for the wall hasn’t changed. And as Fox News reports, Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray, in a meeting with Mexico’s top legislators, called Trump’s plan an “unfriendly, hostile” act, and called on his colleagues to consider the entry fee.
“We could explore – not necessarily a visa, that could impede a lot of people from coming to Mexico – but we could perhaps (have) a fee associated with entry,” Videgaray said. “This is something that I’m sure will be part of our discussion, and I believe we can find points of agreement.”
Videgaray went on to say that Mexico would not pay a cent towards the wall. He said if talks between the U.S. and Mexico fail to satisfy both countries, the Mexican government would consider reducing security cooperation.
“If the negotiation on other themes — immigration, the border, trade — isn’t satisfactory to Mexico’s interests, we will have to review our existing cooperation,” Videgaray said. “This would be especially in the security areas … and that involves the national immigration agency, the federal police and of course, the armed forces.”
So, trade deficits, tax plans, and budget decisions aside, who will really pay for the wall? American tourists via a transfer tax on entry to Mexico? Well Ted Cruz has an even more cunning plan. As RT reports, President Donald Trump’s much vaunted Mexican border wall could be built using the fortune of a notorious drug kingpin, according to Republican Senator Ted Cruz, who has proposed the ‘El Chapo Act’.
Cruz, a one time political rival to Trump, has backed the president’s desire to build a 1,000 mile-long (1600km) barrier between the US and Mexico.
Cruz has now gone a step further by proposing the so-called ‘El Chapo Act’, or the Collection of Hidden Assets to Provide Order, which would use any of the $14 billion being sought by the US government in a case against Mexican drug boss Joaquín Guzmán, to construct the barrier.
The US indictment alleges the 59-year-old, who was previously given a 20-year sentence in his homeland for murder and drug offences, led the violent Sinaloa Cartel and amassed “$14 billion from narcotics sales throughout the United States and Canada.”
“Fourteen billion dollars will go a long way toward building a wall that will keep Americans safe and hinder the illegal flow of drugs, weapons, and individuals across our southern border,” Cruz said in a statement.
“Ensuring the safety and security of Texans is one of my top priorities. We must also be mindful of the impact on the federal budget. By leveraging any criminally forfeited assets of El Chapo and his ilk, we can offset the wall’s cost and make meaningful progress toward achieving President Trump’s stated border security objectives.”
Now that is a border wall funding plan we suspect many could get behind.
President Trump and Congress have until this Saturday to strike a budget deal or face a government shut down. Not surprisingly, Trump decided to kick off what will undoubtedly be a week of tense negotiations with some opening shots across the bow via Twitter:
The two fake news polls released yesterday, ABC & NBC, while containing some very positive info, were totally wrong in General E. Watch!
Throughout his campaign Trump touted several policies which would require massive increases in government spending including his infrastructure plan, new military funding and the border wall. That said, at least in this round of Congressional bickering, it looks like the border wall will be key issue which could leave 1,000s of federal government employees with a little extra paid vacation time in 2017.
As negotiations continue, the White House says it has offered to include $7 billion in Obamacare subsidies that allow low-income people to pay for health insurance in exchange for Democratic backing for $1.5 billion in funding to start construction of the U.S.-Mexico border wall. Congressional negotiators have also offered to cut back Trump’s proposed $30 billion increase in defense spending.
“The question is, how much of our stuff do we have to get? How much of their stuff are they willing to take?” budget director Mick Mulvaney said on Bloomberg Television. “We’d offer them one dollar” of Obamacare payments, he added, “for one dollar of wall payments right now.”
Democrats called Mulvaney’s Obamacare offer a non-starter, saying they refuse to include any funds for a wall in the spending bill that would finance the government through September, the end of the fiscal year.
While Republicans control Congress, any budget deal will have to be passed on a bipartisan basis as members of the Freedom Caucus typically refuse to support unbalanced budgets in the House and Senate approval will require 60 votes while Republicans hold only 52 seats.
It’s a rare moment when the Democrats have leverage in the Republican-controlled House, since it’s likely that Republican leaders would need at least some Democratic votes to offset Republican defections on the budget — as has been the case for a series of budget fights in recent years.
One thing is certain: any spending deal must be a bipartisan one. Even though Republicans control both houses of Congress and the White House, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan know they’ll both need Democratic votes to pass a government funding measure.
The Senate needs 60 votes to advance legislation, meaning the 52 Republicans will need help from at least eight Democrats. In the House, conservatives led by the Freedom Caucus and other fiscal hawks have regularly bolted on spending bills and Democrats have provided enough votes for passage.
Not surprisingly, Chuck Schumer described Trump’s border wall is the only “fly in the ointment” to getting a budget deal done.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s spokesman, Matt House, complained that the White House in recent days brought a “heavy hand” into what he said were smooth-going talks between congressional Republicans and Democrats.
“If the administration would drop their 11th-hour demand for a wall that Democrats, and a good number of Republicans, oppose, congressional leaders could quickly reach a deal,” House said in a statement Friday.
“The only fly in the ointment is that the president is being a little heavy handed, and mixing in and asking for things such as the wall,” Schumer said.
Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi went on Chuck Todd’s “Meet the Press” over the weekend to start playing the “blame game” over who’s responsible for a government shut down that hasn’t yet occurred.
“The democrats do not support the wall. And I think the Republicans in the border states do not support the wall. The Republicans have the votes in the House and the Senate and the White House to keep government open. The burden to keep it open is on the Republicans.”
“The wall, in my view, is immoral, expensive and unwise….”
And here is Budget Director Mick Mulvaney speaking with Bloomberg:
Of course, the budget showdown comes just as Trump continues to pressure Congress to vote on a new healthcare deal this week and has promised to release his tax plan on Wednesday…both of which would be a poke in the eye of Democrats just as he’s trying to win their support on a budget deal. Should be a fun week with lots of flip flops.
While happy campaign rhetoric made it sound like building a 2,000 foot wall along the U.S. southern border would be a walk in the park, in reality, much like repealing and replacing Obamacare and/or passing meaningful tax reform, various regulatory and other hurdles could tie up the project for years.
One such issue that threatens the viability of Trump’s ‘beautiful’ border wall stems from the fact that most of the southern border of Texas is owned by private individuals which means the U.S. government will have to take 100s landowners to court to exert its power of eminent domain. Moreover, as NBC points out, some folks live so close to the Rio Grand River that they may end up on the ‘Mexican side’ of the wall. Of course, these landowner fights could provide all the leverage needed for liberal lawyers to hold up the border wall construction forever, or at least until Trump gets voted out of office.
When the U.S. government built the fence, it had to take hundreds of landowners to court to use its power of eminent domain. That’s because unlike in other southern border states, most Texas border land is privately owned, and tough terrain and water use agreements with Mexico meant some fence was built a mile or more north of the river.
With court fights also expected over Trump’s wall, the Texas Civil Rights Project has begun signing up landowners and identifying people who might be affected.
Under the U.S. Constitution, the government must prove it wants to seize land for public use and must offer a landowner “just compensation.” While challenging the wall’s “public use” would be difficult, those who believe they’re not getting the full value of their land could take the case to court, setting up trials that could take years.
Even if they don’t win, lawyers hope to tie up the wall in court long enough that politics could effectively stop it, either in Congress or after another election.
“That’s a fight that we’ve been ready to fight,” said Efren Olivares, a lawyer with the Texas Civil Rights Project.
Of course, when it comes to conservatives in Texas, almost nothing draws more ire from voters than the idea of stripping them of their private property rights through the assertion of eminent domain. Moreover, in this specific instance, those voters will find unlikely support from any number of liberal organizations who will be all too willing to fund their legal costs to fight Trump and his wall.
In San Benito, Eloisa Tamez spent seven years trying to stop the government from running the fence through her property, which had been in her family since the 1700s. The government eventually won, but only after agreeing to pay about $56,000, many times what it initially offered. She uses a gate to access the part of her property that’s on the other side of the fence.
Now, she’s preparing for the possibility of another court battle.
“I probably have one more decade to live, and I had one decade of torture,” said Tamez, 82. “I think if they start that business again, I don’t know how much fight I’ll have left in me, but I’m going to fight it until the end.”
Something tells us that yet another Trump initiative just got demoted from a ‘near certainty’ to a ‘maybe’…right along with healthcare and tax reform.