We can now add to President Trump’s long list of lies, misbegotten ideas, and utter failures the $1.5 trillion plan to rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure, which his press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders now admits will not result in legislation this year – and probably never will come to pass.
The shame is that with roads, bridges, water systems, power grids and much more badly in need of repair and upgrades, it’s clear that the many promises Trump made on the campaign trail about how many jobs this would create and as president about how it would be a massive public project on a scale not seen since the 1930’s was just more fake news.
“Trump promised during the campaign that he would not only work with Democrats but that he would outdo Hillary Clinton’s infrastructure proposals,” recalls Jonathan Chait in New York Magazine.
“Her number is a fraction of what we’re talking about,” Trump had said. “We need much more money to rebuild our infrastructure.”
On the Fox Business Network in 2016, Trump promised, “at least double her numbers, and you’re going to really need a lot more than that.”
This was a real and rare opportunity to be a bipartisan president and help all Americans if only Trump had come up with a real plan with actual funding.
The Democrats wanted this done as much as he claimed Republicans did because America’s public works need to be upgraded for the digital age before they crumble and lead to disaster.
Instead, when Trump finally announced his grand plan this past February, it was a mish-mash of clumsily cobbled-together plans.
Instead of making a commitment that the federal government would spend what it took to get the job done, Trump offered a “public-private partnership,” that put most of the burden on the states and local communities – already under financial pressure – to come up with four dollars for every dollar the feds would put up.
In February when Trump presented a 53-page proposal, he declared: “It is time to give Americans the working, modern infrastructure they deserve.”
Trump’s plan would offer $200 billion while states, local governments, and private partners were to put up the bulk of the $1.5 trillion.
The use of private partners was always an issue because those investors expect a big return on their money, so would only get involved in things like toll roads in metro areas where the big bucks would flow, and not the rural electrification and water projects that are desperately needed.
The Democrats offered an alternative plan with five times as much federal money but Trump and the Republicans ignored them.
The reality is that the conservative Republicans who control Congress and surround the president refuse under any circumstances to raise taxes or spend money on anything that isn’t the military.
Even worse, major funding was made impossible because of the trillions of dollars given away to the rich in the Trump tax legislation passed in December 2017.
Trump’s so-called tax reform, his only major legislative accomplishment since he took office, has sent the national debt soaring higher than ever before – while failing to produce virtually any of the benefits in terms of jobs, corporate investment, economic growth and trickle-down economic benefits promised by Trump and his mealy-mouthed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
“Once the tax cut had passed,” writes New York Magazine, “the deficit soared, and Republicans, following the familiar script, had to start complaining about excessive spending in order to deflect blame for the deficit from their beloved tax cut.”
“Passing a trillion-dollar debt-financed infrastructure bill might have been easy a year or six months ago,” added New York. “At this point, it would be difficult.”
Actually, Trump’s infrastructure plan is dead, and Trump will have no major legislative victories this year, reports CNBC.
“That conclusion managed to be extraordinary and unsurprising at the same time,” reports CNBC. “Trump is just 16 months into his term, with fellow Republicans controlling both houses of Congress after an eight-year Democratic presidency. Yet the GOP’s deep-seated anti-government stance leaves the modern party with fundamental reflexes of negation.”
“Those reflexes block action on the bold promises that once positioned candidate Trump to deliver infrastructure investments pleasing business and working-class supporters alike,” adds the business news network.”
“Investments cost money,” notes CNBC. “And after the $1.5 trillion tax cut that represents their only major Trump-era achievement so far, Republicans don’t think they have any.”
Trump will now count on his actions in foreign policy to give him an achievement to crow about but that will be little comfort to citizens in states, cities, suburbs and rural areas who don’t have clean water, good roads or a dependable electrical system.
Let’s see the Republicans run on that in November as they are drowned by a blue wave.