White House press secretary Sean Spicer suggested a tax on imports could fund the border security measure before backing off the proposal.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Thursday walked back his statement that President Donald Trump supports a plan to tax imports in order to pay for a wall along the U.S. -Mexico border.
Spicer suggested that a 20 percent tax on imports from countries “like Mexico” could be used to fund the proposed barrier along the southern U.S. border, and he said the administration was already working with Congress
“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 told reporters on the flight back from Trump’s address to congressional Republicans in Philadelphia.
“If you tax that $50 billion at 20 percent of imports — which is by the way a practice that 160 other countries do — right now our country’s policy is to tax exports and let imports flow freely in, which is ridiculous. By doing it, that 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,” he said.
“This is something that we’ve been in close contact with both houses in moving forward and creating a plan,” Spicer added. “It clearly provides the funding and does so in a way that the American taxpayer is wholly respected.”
Later, however, Spicer quickly walked back his comments. The a tax on imports, he said, was one possibility for raising revenue, not a specific policy proposal.
“The idea was that there have been questions about how the president could pay for the wall,” Spicer said later Thursday. “One idea through comprehensive tax reform is that there could be this idea that [House] Speaker [Paul] Ryan and others have floated, but through tax reform you could actually look at imports from countries that we have a trade deficit with that could generate revenue.”
Trying to clarify his original stance, Spicer added: “And the idea is to show that generating revenue for the wall is not as difficult as some might have suggested.”