08:05 GMT +317 October 2019
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    A truck drives near the Mexico-US border fence, on the Mexican side, separating the towns of Anapra, Mexico and Sunland Park, New Mexico

    Build It, Or Else: Trump Pledges Wall With Mexico or US Gov't Shutdown

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    Trump says budget spending on the border wall will be made up for by the subsequent economic benefits to the US at Mexico’s expense, but in order to secure the initial funding, he may be willing to go as far as letting the government shutdown happen in October.

    Kristian Rouz – Amid the ongoing NAFTA re-negotiations and the looming US governmental debt ceiling, President Trump reiterated his commitment to make Mexico pay for the border wall. The initial wall investment, however, is coming from the US budget, Trump said, vowing a US government shutdown if the wall bill is not included in the new budget.

    The US debt ceiling bill is due on September 30, and President Trump is pushing Congress to include wall funding into the new budget, which otherwise the President said he won’t sign into a law, triggering a shutdown of  US governmental institutions as they would be left without funding.

    To support his wall funding bid, Trump said on Sunday that Mexico will eventually pay for the wall in one form or another, suggesting the economic benefits of the hard border to the US economy will generate enough money to offset the costs of the wall to the federal budget.

    Besides, Trump said on Sunday that the US might unilaterally exit NAFTA, which would trigger significant economic losses to Mexico and, to a lesser extent, Canada, in the immediate aftermath of its termination.

    Currently, Mexican-made manufactured goods occupy a significant share of the US consumer market, and a termination of NAFTA would render these goods too expensive for them to compete against other imports into the US.

    Aside from the possible US exit from NAFTA, the White House suggested that an additional 20-percent border tax on imports from Mexico would help make up for the money to be spent from the federal budget to build the wall.

    The severing of trade and economic ties  by the US with Mexico  would certainly trigger a deterioration of the economic situation in the already crime- and poverty-ridden nation, spurring a shockwave of manufacturing facility closures along the US-Mexican border. Intensified cartel drug activity in the border region would ensue, whilst many newly-unemployed Mexicans would rush into the US.

    This would require additional Homeland Security personnel along the border, and tougher security measures in the face of violent crime syndicates infiltrating the US.

    Trump requires $1.6 billion to start building the wall, and whilst Congressional Democrats are opposed to any Trump idea whatsoever, some GOP representatives have voiced concerns over revenue neutrality and uncertain economic benefits of the wall’s construction.

    “If we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall,” Trump said at his Arizona rally last week, adding that “one way or the other, we’re going to get that wall.”

    The Mexican government, meanwhile, says they won’t pay for the wall in any form, seeing it either as a matter of national prestige to have open borders with the US, or hoping they could somehow retain the huge economic benefits they are extracting from the US market without cooperating with Trump.

    “As the government of Mexico has always maintained, our country will not pay, in any way or under any circumstances, for a wall or physical barrier built on US territory along the Mexican border,” the Mexican Foreign Ministry said. “This determination is not part of a Mexican negotiating strategy, but a principle of national sovereignty and dignity.”

    The problem is, the Mexican government has been leading a long and exhausting war with drug cartels that thrive along the US border – on the Mexican side of the line. The drug cartels’ main source of financing is smuggling drugs and people into the US, whilst they  bring in shipments of US weapons, reselling them further down south. The absence of the physical barrier on the US-Mexican border allows the cartels to remain financially sustainable, which is, theoretically, a problem for the Mexican government.

    Unless the high-profile corruption in Mexico City allows some of the cartels money flow into the pockets of policymakers.

    In Washington, House Republicans are leaning toward passing a short-term government funding bill in September, delaying wall funding till December.

    It is yet unclear whether the White House is ready for such a compromise, but the President obviously does not see a problem leaving millions of government employees without a pay check – as  happened in 2013. A shutdown would boost the President’s bargaining power, and  Congress is likely to give in.

    Homeland Security fully supports the President’s agenda, and its representative Tom Bossert said on Sunday that the entire agency hopes the Congress would “meet the President’s budget request.”

    “As we work with the Mexicans in other policies and trade policies and such, we’ll determine ways for us to make that right,” Bossert said.

    September is apparently going to be a month of heated political standoff in Washington, as not only the Mexican border wall will be the key objection in the feud between the White House and Congress. With Obamacare insurers leaving the marketplace because of Trump’s recall of government subsidies, healthcare reform is becoming increasingly urgent, and the fiscal plan also demands additional spending, which House Republicans are opposed to.

    The recent message from Trump is that he refuses to be “moderated” by  Congress and is determined to curb any resistance from lawmakers. The coming two months will thus shape the US political landscape for years ahead.


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    border wall, NAFTA, Donald Trump, United States, Mexico
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