On day 7 of the government shutdown, Donald Trump is threatening (once again) to close the Mexican/United States border altogether. Is it a real threat? Or, is it just a distraction from another day without a functioning government. Today in a series of tweets he said:
We will be forced to close the Southern Border entirely if the Obstructionist Democrats do not give us the money to finish the Wall & also change the ridiculous immigration laws that our Country is saddled with. Hard to believe there was a Congress & President who would approve!
The United States looses soooo much money on Trade with Mexico under NAFTA, over 75 Billion Dollars a year (not including Drug Money which would be many times that amount), that I would consider closing the Southern Border a “profit making operation.” We build a Wall or close the Southern Border. Bring our car industry back into the United States where it belongs. Go back to pre-NAFTA, before so many of our companies and jobs were so foolishly sent to Mexico. Either we build (finish) the Wall or we close the Border.
Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador are doing nothing for the United States but taking our money. Word is that a new Caravan is forming in Honduras and they are doing nothing about it. We will be cutting off all aid to these 3 countries – taking advantage of U.S. for years!
There is a lot to dissect in these statements and a lot of reason to be skeptical about the threats Trump is making here. Has anyone in his administration calculated the cost of closing the border? Imagine the losses to American businesses who depend on trade and goods from Mexico. As Politico says:
Trump has issued both threats before but has so far not carried them out. The White House did not immediately respond to an inquiry about whether the administration has modeled the economic costs to the United States of closing the southern border.
It’s unclear whether the administration has launched an internal policy process aimed at weighing the costs and benefits of such a move. But Trump has been known to circumvent such processes, long a foundation of major presidential decisions, in favor of his own gut instinct.
Meanwhile, as one Twitter user said, “Hold up. If you can just close the border, then why do we need to build a wall?” There is also still the lingering question over whether Trump’s idea is still a wall at all?
Fox crew pushing Mulvaney on how to square changing from "wall" to "steel slat fence" is not going to be seen by Trump voters as bending to Dems on a core issue https://t.co/VND0RRMS3Q
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) December 28, 2018
Another thing that is clear over the last 24 hours is Trump and associates are spinning up that tired old attack on incoming Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Is this the best they have? Shifting the blame from the person who caused the shutdown to one who isn’t even in power yet is quite a feat.
"Nancy Pelosi is only looking to protect her speakership," @PressSec tells @CBSThisMorning, saying @NancyPelosi is "unwilling to negotiate" to end the #shutdown https://t.co/xKJCl5n5pM pic.twitter.com/6n67ApXvlb
— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) December 28, 2018
President Donald Trump and his close allies have begun feeling more confident about the political perch they occupy.
In their eyes, a prolonged stalemate will likely fracture voters along traditional partisan lines, and the ultimate outcome will be a debate waged largely on the president’s terms. Increasingly, they see an upside in forcing likely incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi to have to spend the first days, if not weeks, of the next Congress engaged in an argument over border wall funding rather than her preferred agenda: a mix of sweeping ethics and election reforms and congressional oversight. And they continue to believe that a conversation around immigration and border security is in the president’s best political interests.
Perhaps, but here’s another thought. Maybe everything isn’t about politics. Shutdowns have consequences. The rent is coming due, the mortgage payment, the car loan all need to be paid by hundred of thousands of government workers who have become the latest victims in Donald Trump’s never ending oneupmanship. The numbers for Trump are already bad on this topic, and no doubt soon to get much worse. A new Reuters/Ipsos poll found:
Forty-seven percent of adults hold Trump responsible, while 33 percent blame Democrats in Congress, according to the Dec. 21-25 poll, conducted mostly after the shutdown began. Seven percent of Americans blamed congressional Republicans.