Is President Trump serious about infrastructure spending? | The Tylt
Is President Trump serious about infrastructure spending?
While President Trump may not have produced a detailed infrastructure plan, his defenders argue he is headed in the right direction. While the need to improve America's infrastructure is a relatively bipartisan issue—and the latest Amtrak crashes have only escalated a sense of urgency—there are disagreements on the best way to allocate funds.
According to The Washington Examiner, the Trump administration intends to shift the obligation of infrastructure spending "away from Washington and toward the states," while also incorporating "private-sector investment" into the process.
Trump wants to “build gleaming new roads, bridges, highways, railways and waterways all across our land.” But in his own words from his State of the Union address, “every federal dollar should be leveraged by partnering with state and local governments and, where appropriate, tapping into private-sector investment.”
His administration has made clear an intention to shift this obligation away from Washington and toward the states. This is the right approach to upgrading the nation’s infrastructure.
If Trump continues to give states—as opposed to the federal government—the means to control their own infrastructure spending, the policy outcome will be a successful one.
But critics argue Trump is, as usual, all talk and no action. His self-declared "infrastructure week" was a total disaster, and his infrastructure plan is, as Tate Hausman argues in The Hill, full of "fuzzy numbers and quack math."
When looked at beyond Trump’s rhetoric, this supposed “$1 trillion dollar plan” is just a bait and switch to lure votes, while delivering serious profits to his political cronies. It’s a scam that would roll back the federal government’s historic role building up this country’s infrastructure, and instead hit working- and middle-class families with higher taxes, tolls, and fewer jobs.
Hausman argues Trump's "plan" would actually hurt states by putting the onus on them to come up with 80 percent of the money needed to spend on infrastructure projects. It would force states to turn to the private sector, and the interests of investors and the community won't always align.
Currently, the average highway project gets 80 percent federal funding and 20 percent state or local. Under Trump’s plan, that formula would get flipped on its head — 80 percent or more from states and localities, and a maximum of 20 percent from the federal government. It’s classic Trump: he’ll take credit for building it, but you pay.
For many states and cities, there’s only one way to raise that kind of money — selling off public assets to private investors looking to make a profit. Trump’s political cronies may love that, but it comes at a huge price.
As vague and lacking in detail as Trump's infrastructure "plan" may be, the few things he has proposed would make the problem worse, not better.