Political News

Spokesman says Trump seeks 20 percent tax on Mexican imports

Posted January 26

— President Donald Trump called on fellow Republicans to help him enact "great and lasting change" at a party retreat Thursday but offered few details. Later his spokesman said the president will seek a 20 percent tax on Mexican imports to pay for a proposed border wall.

The president was greeted by cheers as he took the stage in a hotel ballroom, telling senators and House members, "This Congress is going to be the busiest Congress in decades — maybe ever."

He addressed lawmakers shortly after Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto canceled a trip to Washington next week for his first meeting with the new president due to their disagreement over which of their countries would pay to build Trump's promised wall on the border between them.

The wall is part of Trump's plan to halt illegal immigration to the U.S., and he has long insisted that Mexico will pay. Peña Nieto insists his country will not.

On the flight back to Washington, White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters traveling with the president that Trump will seek to impose a 20 percent tax on Mexican imports to pay for the wall. Congressional approval would be needed for such a step.

But then later, at the White House, Spicer tried to take back his earlier comments by saying the 20 percent tax is one of several options under consideration and Trump hasn't settled on it as the way to recoup construction costs for building the wall.

In Trump's remarks to lawmakers, he cast the cancellation of his engagement with Peña Nieto as a mutual decision, saying they had "agreed to cancel our planned meeting." Trump had tweeted early Thursday that "it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting" given Peña Nieto's unwillingness to pay for the border wall.

Some people in North Carolina worry that the president's actions on immigration could hurt their businesses.

Mitch Renkow, an agricultural economist at North Carolina State University, said a crackdown on immigration means some laborers – both documented and undocumented – may not be as willing to come to the U.S. or stay for work. Fewer workers will drive up the cost of labor – and the cost of goods – for everything from construction to farmwork, he said.

Renkow also noted the value of the peso plunged after Trump was elected and is continuing to fall, which will make it more difficult for Mexico to import goods from the U.S.

"North Carolina, specifically, is a big exporter of agricultural goods to Mexico, so anything that makes those goods more expensive to Mexico is going to cut down those exports," he said. "Any policies that sort of ignore that economic fact of life may be fairly ill-thought-out and ill-advised."

Trump's election put Republicans in control of both the White House and Congress for the first time in more than a decade. Yet Trump's often fluid ideology has sometimes put him at odds with his own party, making agreement on issues including a tax overhaul and entitlements no guarantee.

Addressing fellow Republicans, the president spoke about his agenda in broad terms and then skipped a planned question-and-answer session. He gave the lawmakers no specific marching orders for tackling the repeal and replace of the Affordable Care Act, one of the most complicated issues Congress is expected to tackle this year.

Spicer had said Trump on Thursday would continue to exercise his executive authority to implement his agenda, but an event listed on the president's public schedule was postponed and could now take place on Friday.

The White House is considering steps to commission a probe of widespread voter fraud, restrict the flow of refugees to the U.S., and negotiate individual trade deals with countries that signed the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact. Trump took steps earlier this week to withdraw the U.S. from TPP, saying the agreement puts American workers at a disadvantage.

Trump's brief trip to Philadelphia marked his first flight on Air Force One, the familiar blue and white government plane that has long ferried presidents around the country and the world. Spokesman Sean Spicer described Trump, who traveled throughout the campaign and the transition on his own private jet, as being "in awe" of the presidential aircraft.

Trump saluted as he walked off his Marine helicopter and chatted with an Air Force officer who escorted him to the steps of the plane. He climbed the steps slowly but did not turn around and wave as presidents often do.


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  • Chad Seymour Jan 27, 2017
    user avatar

    Big beautiful wall that Mexico will pay for with this 20% tax. Nope just another big beautiful lie by Mr. Conspiracy Theory. This populist ideology is some scary stuff. Call me a snowflake, libtard, or (gasp) a liberal, but you know what? My educated self can sniff out a liar pretty quick and folks, we are in the middle of our country being run by a paranoid populist who will destroy our economy by making his believers think that every country out there is either cheating us or wants to kill us. This sucks and yeah, he is a liar, he just believes his own bs. We deserve better.

  • Melanie Lane Jan 26, 2017
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    so not only do we get to violate international trade deal, he's making sure the american consumer pays for it.. fiscal responsibility, republican style

  • Anna Temple Jan 26, 2017
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    Walls not only keep people out. They keep people in. They close the mind. They hide the Gardens of Eden. Walls are for the weak of mind not of the mighty of strength and character.

  • Jeffrey Derry Jan 26, 2017
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    [u]build the wall you don't have a country unless your borders are secure and they are not

  • Karen Hahn Jan 26, 2017
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    View quoted thread

    I think what you say makes lots of sense!

  • Tom Baker Jan 26, 2017
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    I hope that Trump will comprehend in time that the US actually has more to lose than Mexico in a trade war.

  • Amanda Hill Jan 26, 2017
    user avatar

    So, Mexico is our 3rd largest trading partner. It's not just a 'few' goods (including parts in nearly every domestic vehicle made). Of course, if everyone stops buying Mexican goods, the wall still isn't paid for. But the most likely scenario is that Mexico will return the 20% tariff favor by placing one on US exports to Mexico. And then Mexico will just start trading more with China since it would then be cheaper to ship their goods overseas than deal with the US tariff. In all scenarios, the US loses.

  • Stacie Hagwood Jan 26, 2017
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    For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Be careful what you wish for; you just might get it.

  • Anita Gibson Jan 26, 2017
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    View quoted thread

    When your grocery bill goes sky high you'll think differently

  • Brenda Love Jan 26, 2017
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    View quoted thread

    If he violates the NAFTA agreement, is that an impeachable offense? :D