Tough-guy-in-chief Donald Trump first promised voters that Mexico would pay for his nonsensical border wall. But it’s actually the U.S. taxpayers who will be initially on the hook for the multi-billion-dollar boondoggle.
Now, the president is challenging an internal report by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that estimates the proposed 1,250-mile wall will cost a staggering $21.6 billion—twice as much as Trump had promised the American people—and take over three years to finish.
But never mind any of those thorny details, because according to Trump, he “hasn’t gotten involved” in the project yet, and when he does, the “price will come WAY DOWN!”
Trump initially promised the wall would cost no more than $12 billion, and Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan said maybe it would cost as much as $15 billion. But the DHS report, first reported by Reuters, shred that delusional figure to pieces.
According to Reuters:
The report accounted for the time and cost of acquiring private land, one reason for its steep price increase compared to estimates from Trump and members of Congress.
Bernstein Research, an investment research group that tracks material costs, has said that uncertainties around the project could drive its cost up to as much as $25 billion.
According to the DHS report, the wall would be built in three phases, with funding provided by Congress as early as May. Construction on the first phase, in areas of California and Texas, could start by September.
But it’s still not clear, even if construction begins, how the government would appropriate large swaths of private property, particularly in Texas, in order to finish Trump’s wall. As The Washington Post notes, most of Texas is privately owned, thanks to the terms outlined in its entry into the Union two centuries ago. And that’s going to add delays and cost hikes as landowners inevitably battle it out with the federal government in court.
As the costs continue to increase, it’s also not clear how Trump would bring them down, just because he’s involved. Perhaps he intends on implementing cost-cutting measures similar to what he did during construction of the Trump Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City: by not paying the subcontractors. On that project, Trump failed to pay 253 subcontractors in full or on time, an investigation last year by USA Today found.
According to the investigation:
Donald Trump often portrays himself as a savior of the working class who will ‘protect your job.’ But a USA TODAY NETWORK analysis found he has been involved in more than 3,500 lawsuits over the past three decades — and a large number of those involve ordinary Americans, like the Friels, who say Trump or his companies have refused to pay them.
The report noted that unpaid workers have lined up to sue Trump and his businesses, from plumbers to real estate brokers:
At least 60 lawsuits, along with hundreds of liens, judgments, and other government filings reviewed by the USA TODAY NETWORK, document people who have accused Trump and his businesses of failing to pay them for their work. Among them: a dishwasher in Florida. A glass company in New Jersey. A carpet company. A plumber. Painters. Forty-eight waiters. Dozens of bartenders and other hourly workers at his resorts and clubs, coast to coast. Real estate brokers who sold his properties. And, ironically, several law firms that once represented him in these suits and others.
Welcome to another Trump train wreck.