Trump's 20 Percent Tax on Mexican Imports Would Force U.S. Consumers to Pay for Border Wall

This is a developing story and will be updated.WASHINGTON -- The White House floated the idea Thursday of imposing a 20 percent tax on Mexican imports, arguing that would be more than enough to pay for a controversial border wall.Such a tariff on goods and services would be paid by U.S. consumers and businesses -- people buying anything from avocados and tequila to automobiles. On its face, that doesn't appear to fulfill President Donald Trump's oft-repeated vow to force Mexico to pay for the barrier, which Mexican leaders have made clear they don't want and certainly won't agree to pay for.Texas imported $84 billion from Mexico in 2015, suggesting that once the tariff was in place, Texas businesses and consumers would pay an extra $16.8 billion for the same goods and services.White House press secretary Sean Spicer described the idea to reporters aboard Air Force One as the president returned from a speech to GOP lawmakers in Philadelphia."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," Spicer said. "If you tax that $50 billion at 20 percent of imports... 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 called it "ridiculous" that "right now our country's policy is to tax exports and let imports flow freely in."A tariff of the sort describe, he said, "clearly provides the funding and does so in a way that the American taxpayer is wholly respected."On Thursday, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto cancelled a trip to Washington next week to meet the new U.S. president. He expressed dismay at Trump's announcement a day earlier that he will, in fact, push to construct a wall the length of the U.S.-Mexico border, and his continued insistence that Mexico will eventually pay for that wall.In Philadelphia, Trump spun the cancellation as a mutual decision and reiterated his expectation for reimbursement. The wall is likely to cost $10 billion to $25 billion."Unless Mexico is going to treat the U.S. fairly, with respect, such a meeting would be fruitless," Trump said.Spicer said the president has discussed the proposal with GOP lawmakers. Such a tariff would require congressional action -- and would likely lead to retaliatory tariffs and other pushback from Mexico. U.S.-Mexico relations have hit a low point, after years of warming that included increased cooperation to smooth border trade, curb the flow of migrants, weapons and drugs, and share intelligence involving terrorists.  Continue reading...

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