President-elect Donald Trump really needs to learn to sleep through the night — or at least save his middle-of-the-night communiqués for genuine emergencies.
Yet at 3:19 this morning, he beamed the following tweet to the world: “The dishonest media does not report that any money spent on building the Great Wall (for sake of speed) will be paid back by Mexico later.”
It’s not clear what the media are being dishonest about. Could be they doubt Mexico will pay for a border wall until one is built to keep Americans from fleeing to Mexico for a better life.
More likely, given the number of times Mr. Trump declared during the presidential campaign that he would build this “Great Wall” and force Mexico to pay for it, some U.S. news outlets weren’t listening carefully when he altered the plan in October. That’s when he said he’d build the wall and Mexico would repay us later.
That, of course, is a fantasy. Mexico doesn’t have the money. Neither, for that matter, does the United States, but that apparently is not a consideration.
Unfortunately, the wall itself probably isn’t a fantasy. Mr. Trump is said to be working with House Republicans on a plan to build the wall under authorization of a 2006 law — the Secure Fence Act — signed by President George W. Bush; that law provided for 800-plus miles of wall or various barriers on America’s southern border. In part because of complaints from Mexico, fewer than 50 miles of doublelayer fencing were built under Presidents Bush and Barack Obama, though some $3 billion was invested in research into a “virtual fence” and other factors. Lawmakers amended the law in 2010 to reduce the potential length to about 700 miles.
The wall is something of a priority for Republicans largely because they saw how candidate Trump’s references to it aroused audiences at campaign events. It’s also fair to wonder whether some congressional Republicans consider Mexicans irresistible scapegoats for America’s problems.
As for the cost of the wall, construction estimates range from a few billion dollars to as much as $14 billion. Those estimates do not include the costs of acquiring property from American landowners, border patrol agents and maintenance.
So important is moving quickly on the wall for some Republicans that possibilities include adding funding for it in one of the bills that keeps government operating and daring Democrats to force a government shutdown to block the wall.
That ought to merit a middle-of-the-night tweet from our next president.