"Infrastructure Week" Stalls Out: Trump Infrastructure Plan Must Still Be Under Construction

President Trump Promised $1 Trillion Investment In America’s Infrastructure, From Roadways And Waterways, To Schools And Rural Broadband - But Bare Bones Plan Includes Less Than A Quarter Of That & Even Directly Contradicts His Administration’s Proposed Budget, Which Would Slash Public Investment In Infrastructure Washington Post: “Trump keeps pretending his infrastructure plan is real. It’s not.” Bloomberg: “Trump ‘Self-Help’ Infrastructure Plan Irks State, Local Leaders.”

June 9, 2017

Washington, DC – As the White House’s “infrastructure week” comes to a close, headlines from around the country reveal one thing about President Trump’s major infrastructure plan: there is no plan. This week, President Trump held a flashy ceremony at the White House where he signed routine letters to Congress, which stated his support for a bare bones infrastructure plan and his proposal to privatize the U.S. air traffic control system. After roughly six months in office, the Trump Administration has yet to come up with a substantive infrastructure proposal despite the fact that, on the campaign trail, then-candidate Trump vowed to push a massive $1 trillion plan that would invest in America’s infrastructure projects.

On top of this, the Trump Administration has proposed a budget that directly contradicts this promise. In fact, Trump’s plan only specifies $200 billion for infrastructure while, at the same time, the Administration’s budget proposal includes massive, devastating cuts to public investment in infrastructure that would wipe out the new investments. The Senate Democrats called this yet another broken promise to the American people, who were routinely told the President would invest federal funds in everything from roadways and waterways, to schools and rural broadband.

Senate Democrats announced their proposal, A Blueprint to Rebuild America's Infrastructure and Create 15 Million Jobs, back in January, and urged the President to support their plan. This blueprint includes a historic $1 trillion investment and would create more than 15 million jobs over the next 10 years. This comprehensive proposal would provide billions for funding essential road and bridge improvement projects, expanding broadband in rural communities, repairing critical rail systems in major cities, modernizing VA hospitals, rebuilding public schools, expanding port and waterway infrastructure, rehabilitating water and sewer structures, and much more.


The Hill: Trump's 'infrastructure week' goes off the rails. “The White House's self-proclaimed ‘infrastructure week’ has generated a flurry of headlines on nearly everything else. Part of the reason the initiative was overshadowed was ex-FBI Director James Comey's gripping testimony on Capitol Hill, which commanded the attention of Washington and major cable news networks all week long. But much of the derailment on the infrastructure rollout has been of President Trump's own making. He repeatedly veered off message in tweets and infrastructure-themed speeches, flouting some of White House staffers’ carefully laid plans.” [The Hill, 6/9/17]

CBS News: Trump's infrastructure plan is missing some nuts and bolts. “In a speech in Cincinnati on Wednesday, President Donald Trump vowed that his $1 trillion infrastructure plan would restore "America's industrial might, creating the jobs and tax base to put new infrastructure all over this country." Economists, however, say that's easier said than done. For one thing, the Trump plan specifies only $200 billion in new federal spending even as the administration's budget includes "enormous cuts to public investment," according to the liberal Economic Policy Institute. The administration also did not specify just where the remaining $800 billion would come from and how the spending increases would jibe with the huge cuts in infrastructure spending envisioned in its proposed budget. Moreover, the president has provided few details about how the government would form the public-private partnerships it's counting on to boost infrastructure spending overall.” [CBS News, 6/8/17]

Associated Press:  Trump infrastructure push faces cold shoulder from Congress.  “Repairing the nation’s crumbling roads and bridges was supposed to be an area ripe for bipartisan compromise between congressional Democrats and President Donald Trump. Instead, Democrats are panning Trump’s proposed $1 trillion overhaul and even Republicans are balking at some aspects of the emerging plan. The White House’s self-proclaimed “Infrastructure Week” began with Trump appearing Monday with aviation officials and some prominent GOP lawmakers to announce plans to privatize the nation’s air traffic control system and separate operations from the Federal Aviation Administration. ‘We live in a modern age yet our air traffic control system is stuck, painfully, in the past,’ Trump said, noting the FAA had been working to upgrade the system for years. But the proposal quickly drew bipartisan opposition, and there were few signs it would get far on Capitol Hill. ‘All but our largest airports nationwide stand to be hurt by this proposal,’ said Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas.” [AP, 6/6/17]

Washington Post: ‘Infrastructure week,’ designed to challenge Democrats, finds no takers. “On Jan. 23, Democrats attempted to preempt a populist Trump proposal with their own $1 trillion infrastructure package, funding everything from broadband to sewer pipes at a higher rate than the 2009 stimulus. The White House did nothing.” [The Washington Post, 6/7/17]

Washington Post: Trump keeps pretending his infrastructure plan is real. It’s not. “President Trump's "$1 trillion infrastructure plan” isn't $1 trillion and it isn't a plan. It's a $200 billion plan to have a plan that hasn't advanced beyond that stage for six months now. The administration, though, has decided that this is “infrastructure week,” so this bare outline of an actual proposal is getting touted as if it's something that required more than five minutes of thought. Which is to say that it's not that different from the rest of Trump's agenda: bullet points that seem more appropriate for a tweet than for anything else. Now, the funny thing is how long it's taken the administration to come up with even this minimal level of detail and how much infighting it caused within Trump's often-fractious White House.” [The Washington Post, 6/8/17]

FOX19 NOW (OH): Trump's infrastructure plan short on specifics. “Brent Spence Bridge, Western Hills Viaduct, specific waterways critical to to [sic] the tri-state's economy were all missing-in-action in President Donald Trump's infrastructure speech in Cincinnati Wednesday. The president delivered a campaign rally-style speech at Cincinnati's Rivertowne Marina in front of an audience largely made up people with business and political ties. His visit to the tri-state area is part of the administration’s week-long push for an overhaul of the nation’s roads, bridges and waterways. However, Trump neglected to point to any specific project in the region, or the country, he wants to revitalize with his multi-billion dollar plan if it survives Congress. Trump made the case for a massive investment in much-needed upgrades in the nation's waterways.” [FOX19 NOW, 6/7/17]

NBCDFW (TX): Trump Infrastructure Improvement Plan to Include More Tolls on Roads. “In the midst of what has otherwise been a turbulent week for the Commander in Chief, President Donald Trump has traveled the nation to tout his reported $1 trillion infrastructure improvement plan. The president is expected to visit the Transportation Department Friday and elaborate on what had been a campaign promise of his to improve the nation’s crumbling highways and bridges. Specific details of the president’s plan have been scant to date, but the White House released a six-page fact sheet titled the 2018 Budget: Infrastructure Initiative that makes the case that the current system of the Federal government investing in non-Federal infrastructure is ‘not working.’” [NBCDFW, 6/9/17]

Houston Chronicle Editorial (TX): Infrastructure plan: Trump's reliance on private toll roads creates a blueprint for failure. “Republicans usually like to stay away from anything that can be described as Chicago-style politics, so voters should be confused to see Donald Trump pitching an infrastructure plan that borrows from one of the Windy City's worst experiments in public policy. Back in 2008, Chicago tried to fill a funding gap by selling 75-year contract that allowed a private consortium to run its downtown parking meter system. The result was nothing short of a disaster. The new owners raised prices by 800 percent and started charging for parking where it had once been free. Businesses were hurt. People were outraged. And the parking meters broke down in winter. Turns out that private profit and public interests don't always line up.” [Houston Chronicle, 6/8/17]

Associated Press: Air traffic privatization plan hits turbulence in Congress. “President Donald Trump's plan to privatize the nation's air traffic control system is running into bipartisan opposition in Congress, where Republicans fret that it could raise costs for air travelers and hurt small airports…Business aircraft operators, private pilots and nonhub airports have also expressed concerns that they may pay more and receive less service under a private corporation.” [Associated Press, 6/7/17]

Bloomberg: Trump ‘Self-Help’ Infrastructure Plan Irks State, Local Leaders. “Mayors and state lawmakers from both parties are blasting President Donald Trump’s proposed transportation budget and $1 trillion infrastructure initiative, saying his plans would cut federal funding for critical projects and leave them holding the bill. The backlash comes after Trump last week revealed a plan for upgrading roads, bridges, airports, sea ports and other public works that relies heavily on what his administration called ‘self-help.’ Under the plan, new federal spending would be used primarily as an incentive for states, cities and private investors to come up with most of the money.” [Bloomberg, 6/1/17]

LA Times: Trump opens 'infrastructure week' without a plan, and calls for privatizing air traffic control. “President Trump employed all the trappings traditionally reserved for signing major bills into law as he kicked off ‘infrastructure week’ on Monday: the stately East Room full of dignitaries, a four-piece military band to serenade, celebratory handshakes and souvenir presidential pens for lawmakers, promises of ‘a great new era’ and a ‘revolution’ in technology. Yet the documents Trump signed amid all the pomp were not new laws or even an executive order. They were routine letters to Congress, relaying support for a minimally detailed plan in Trump’s budget to transfer control of the nation’s air traffic control system to a private nonprofit group. This was the ceremonial opening to Trump’s full week of infrastructure promotion, which is scheduled to include a speech along the Ohio River on Wednesday and a White House meeting with mayors and governors on Thursday. But it was also the latest example of a pattern of the administration claiming to have sent Congress fully constructed policies when it has provided only facades — creating the appearance of substantive heft and legislative action even in cases where there is next to none.” [LA Times, 6/5/17]

McClatchy DC: Trump loves his rural base, but will they lose under his plan to privatize FAA? “Despite a campaign full of pledges to aid rural areas, President Trump’s first big move on infrastructure – privatizing key functions of the Federal Aviation Administration – is quickly drawing fire from small airports, rural communities and their federal lawmakers. That opposition could sink the proposal in Congress, or at least rile up some of Trump’s base…Small airports and the general aviation industry fear they could become an aviation afterthought.” [McClatchy DC, 6/5/17]

MSNBC: Trump launches infrastructure initiative with fake signing ceremony. “It had all the trappings of a major bill-signing ceremony – Trump even surrounded himself with Republican members of Congress, who were only too pleased to accept ceremonial pens – except the president didn’t sign any legislation. There wasn’t even an executive order. Time magazine reported that a White House aide told reporters Trump had signed a ‘a decision memo and letter transmitting legislative principles to Congress.’ … The debate over whether to privatize air-traffic control will, apparently, now begin in earnest in Congress, where quite a few prominent Republicans have already joined Democrats in voicing skepticism about fixing a problem that doesn’t really exist. … Phony signing ceremonies may make Trump feel better, but if he’s counting on having a real signing ceremony on an infrastructure package, the president should probably start lowering his expectations.” [MSNBC, 6/6/17]

NPR: Trump's Infrastructure Plan Still Could Use More Planning. “Despite America's rapt attention on former FBI Director James Comey's testimony, the White House has been observing Infrastructure Week. Infrastructure one of the only policy areas that could have crossover appeal, but there has been little real movement so far on getting something through Congress. To kick off the festivities, the president on Monday pushed his plan to privatize air-traffic control. And on Wednesday, he touted his broader infrastructure spending plan. The basic idea of this plan is that the government will spend $200 billion, using tax breaks to incentivize private business to, in turn, spend more money on infrastructure projects. Altogether, with state and local contributions as well, spending would total $1 trillion. The administration also said that it would cut regulations to help the government ‘get out of the way’ of building projects.” [NPR, 6/9/17]

The Atlantic: The Potemkin Policies of Donald Trump. “It’s ‘Infrastructure Week’ at the White House. Theoretically. On Monday, the administration announced a plan to spend $200 billion on infrastructure and overhaul U.S. air traffic control. There was a high-profile signing in the East Wing before dozens of cheering lawmakers and industry titans. It was supposed to be the beginning of a weeklong push to fix America’s roads, bridges, and airports...The secret of the Trump infrastructure plan is: There is no infrastructure plan.” [The Atlantic, 6/7/17]

Newsday (NY): Trump transport plans: From new tolls to Saudi funds. “Crucial details are still to be revealed and negotiated before President Donald Trump’s big infrastructure proposal approaches reality. Up to this week, its unusual aspects receivced [sic] the most attention…For one, it was announced that Saudi Arabia pledged $20 billion to the private investment firm Blackstone Group, whose chief executive is Steve Schwartzman, a presidential adviser. Blackstone has been looking to invest in toll roads, airports and other public projects. The Trump program calls for a big role for private capital, and his ally Schwartzman said he’d raise and borrow way more than just the Saudi piece...There are concerns, of course, about which private interests, foreign and domestic, might profit from public assets.” [Newsday, 6/4/17]

The Guardian Op-Ed: The thing about Trump's infrastructure plan is: it doesn't really exist. “Visitors to these American shores – if they squint and look real close – may be forgiven for thinking that they’ve stumbled back into socialism. We still have a federal Post Office. We have a national railroad – ok, it’s not much. And here in Texas I pay my water, sewer, and electric bills to the local government, send my kids to the public schools (free, with orchestras) and teach in a state university. At 65, I have reached the age of Social Security and Medicare without working a day in the private sector.” [The Guardian, 6/9/17]