Daily Management Review

Calling it Part of a 'Buffet of Options', White House Softens 20% Border Tax Idea


Calling it Part of a 'Buffet of Options', White House Softens 20% Border Tax Idea
Having received widespread attention in the wake of a dispute between President Donald Trump and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto over plans to construct a border wall between the two countries, White House press secretary Sean Spicer clarified earlier remarks he made on Thursday about the Trump administration's position on a possible 20 percent border tax.
He pulled several reporters aside to clarify the administration's position, after Spicer floated the idea of a tax to pay for the border wall. His earlier comments aboard Air Force One were not meant to be a specific rollout of a new proposal, Spicer said in an impromptu meeting in his office.
"I just want to be clear: we are not being prescriptive and saying this is the only way. Nor is the rate prospective," Spicer said. "There are several ways this could happen."
To cover the expected multibillion dollar cost of a border wall, the White House is seeking to highlight potential funding mechanisms and Spicer's comments came amidst such efforts. The Republican-controlled Congress has projected a $12 billion to $15 billion cost for the wall, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.
Revenue could be generated through comprehensive tax reform negotiations on Capitol Hill this year, Spicer suggested in the meeting.
A border tax is just one of a "buffet of options" to pay for the wall, said White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus who ducked into the meeting momentarily.
There would be offsetting "dynamic" benefits to having a border wall paid for by a border tax. Spicer said when pressed on whether such a tax would increase costs for American consumers.
"Right now they're also paying for the flood of illegal immigration coming in and the cost to US workers from that," he said. "They're paying for increased costs to secure the border and border agents, so it's a cost benefit analysis you need to do."
"Not if Walmart also recognizes that they can create jobs in the United States and not face that tax", Spicer said when asked hypothetically if a company such as Walmart would be forced to pass on any tax increase to its customers in the form of price hikes.
Trump will put American workers first through all negotiations on paying for the wall, Spicer emphasized.
America's southern neighbor will pay for the barrier in some form, Trump has repeatedly insisted. His country will not fund the wall, Pena Nieto has stressed.
"I have said it over and over again. Mexico will not pay for any wall," he said in an address to the nation. 
He would not come to Washington next week for a planned summit with Trump, Pena Nieto announced earlier on Thursday. The meeting should be canceled if Mexico isn't willing to pay for the wall, Trump tweeted earlier.
Following through on a key campaign promise, an executive order directing the construction of a physical wall along the U.S.-Mexico border was signed by Trump on Thursday. Relations between the president and Pena Nieto have been strained due to that directive and other executive orders related to immigration.