President Donald Trump is preparing to push forward his plan to spend a trillion dollars on infrastructure “in the next several weeks,” according to Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. The administration is expected to first release an outline of the plan and then provide more information going forward.
Here are seven things you need to know about Trump’s infrastructure plan so far.
1. The administration is hoping to entice private companies into entering partnerships with state and local governments by dangling $200 billion in federal tax dollars. The $200 billion is designed to be “leverage” for public-private partnerships to provide enough financing toward infrastructure that would reach the $1 trillion threshold or higher. It seems unlikely that this would pass through Congress, since politicians from both sides of the aisle seem intent on using federal tax dollars to start pet projects that give them free publicity. There are also concernsabout public-private partnerships raising enough money to reach the administration’s goal.
2. In addition to funding transportation infrastructure, the proposal will also focus on “energy, water, and potentially broadband and veterans hospitals as well,” per Chao.
3. Regulations will be cut under the proposal. Trump said in a speech recently, while holding a chart, “If you want to build a highway in the United States, these are some of the permits you need. It’s a process that can take way over 10 years and just never happens. We’re getting rid of many of these regulations.”
The goal is to lessen the timeline of the permit process down to only one year.
4. Sixteen federal agencies have worked together on the infrastructure plan.
5. A committee will be established to monitor the projects funded by the bill. The committee will ensure that the projects have to be ready within 90 days or else they won’t be getting any federal funding.
6. Air traffic control modernization will likely be a focus in the plan. This is an issue that White House chief advisor Gary Cohn is enthusiastic about, as he has gushed about the merits of privatizing the Air Traffic Control Organization. Therefore, it can be expected that some sort of reform on air traffic control will be included in the bill.
7. The timing of his infrastructure proposal could complicate its passage. The Hill points outthat “Chao said congressional debate on the bill would likely come in the third quarter. But that timeline would put it up against debate over spending bills, the debt ceiling and a must-pass aviation bill.”
As a result, it’s possible that in the faux hysteria of passing spending bills to avoid a government shutdown that the infrastructure proposal becomes an afterthought and is rushed through Congress as part of raising the debt ceiling and avoiding the shutdown.
Regardless, conservatives should be wary of infrastructure spending bills. Far too often it opens the door toward further wasteful spending on myriad projects when the nation’s infrastructure isn’t even crumbling.
H/T: The Hill