WASHINGTON ― It should be obvious by now that Mexico is not going to pay for “the wall” ― if a wall is actually built at all.
Significant parts of the government are shut down right now over a dispute about how much money Congress ― and therefore taxpayers, not Mexico ― will dole out for new barrier construction along the U.S.-Mexico border.
But don’t tell that to Republicans. For the most part this week, Republicans refused to contradict President Donald Trump’s contortionist explanations for why, technically, sort of, in a roundabout way, Mexico is footing the bill.
“I certainly understand the president’s logic, and I’ve always got it,” Rep. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) told HuffPost Friday, “that if we have more jobs in America, because of an improved [North American Free Trade] Agreement, that it’ll be more economic tax base for the United States.”
The new trade agreement negotiated last year has not yet been approved by Congress and does not mention the wall. If that explanation wasn’t confusing or tenuous enough, Marshall also said the wall was “an investment.”
“This is the best $5.7 billion of American taxpayer money that we can use,” he said. “It’ll come back in multiples for decades to come if it keeps out drugs, if it keeps out terrorists, if it keeps out criminals.”
Over the course of more than two dozen conversations this week, Republicans tried their best to evade questions about who’s paying for the wall, though some members acknowledged it was not Mexico. But plenty of GOP lawmakers were happy to accept Trump’s arguments that Mexico would eventually pay, that new trade deals would offset the cost, or that, hey, doesn’t a wall pay for itself anyway?
“We are paying as taxpayers for not having border security,” Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) said. “I can tell you that. We are already.”
Roe added that “the wall will pay for itself, absolutely,” but he acknowledged that Mexico wasn’t...