What Happened to Trump’s Infrastructure Plans?
Robert A. Levine
Sure he's got a lot of his plate. But once upon a time when a man named Donald Trump was running for president, he promised Americans that he would spend a trillion dollars on improving the nation’s infrastructure. He was aware that roads and bridges were deteriorating and dangerous, railroads were unreliable, and high speed trains were a reality in Europe, China and Japan, but not the US. He was determined that America would not be left behind with a third world infrastructure surpassed by multiple nations.
Of course, that was before Trump was elected president and had to deal with multiple problems all at once: some self-made, and others present for some time. And a trillion dollars ain’t hay. Trump had to find a way to come up with the cash needed to attack the failing infrastructure. Actually, civil engineers had given the US infrastructure a D+ rating and said it would take about $4 trillion to fix over the next several years.
But soon the possibility of a tax cut reared its ugly head, pushed by Republicans in Congress. Trump immediately switched his attention from infrastructure to cutting taxes. If structured properly, not only would the tax cut please Congressional Republicans, it would also benefit Trump and all of his affluent buddies. Trump was also fixated on the idea that economic improvement with the tax cut would balance the money lost, so that the deficit and national debt would not be increased. This happened to be a total pipedream and the deficit is already rising along with the national debt. So there’s no place to get money for infrastructure repair unless Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are invaded, which Trump also had promised he would not do. To understand Trump’s motivation a bit, think about the time after the tax cut when he walked into the Mar a Lago club and told a group of his friends, “I just made you guys a lot of money.” He knew the tax cut was going to do nothing for his base but would help the top one percent- his buddies.
However, after the midterm elections, Trump may become more aggressive with changes to social programs if he wants to get infrastructure repair and improvement under way. Cutting the entitlement programs in various ways are the only major source of money that could be used for infrastructure, though it would make a lot of middle and working class families angry. But if it’s done quickly, perhaps people will forget by the time the next presidential election rolls around. And it should produce plenty of jobs and business for a lot of American companies. Trump certainly has the balls to do it though it would hurt a lot of his base. It would also deflect attention for a while from the Mueller investigation and filling the Supreme Court.
The tax cut was certainly unnecessary with the economy booming and no stimulus needed. Infrastructure is in desperate condition and repairs are badly in order. But Trump chose to help himself and his friends instead of taking action that would help the whole country and especially his own base. Was this surprising based on the promises he had made? Not at all.