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America Needs Real Federal Investment To Repair Our National Infrastructure

Today, President Trump announced his “Trillion dollar infrastructure plan” that many say, completely misses the mark.

ThinkProgress explains how the new program is going to work (in theory):

“The proposal aims to turn $200 billion in federal funds into a $1.5 trillion investment over the next ten years by placing most of the financial burden on states and cities, which will have to cover at least 80 percent of the cost of any infrastructure project in order to qualify for federal grants, likely through higher taxes, tolls, and other user fees. The $200 billion number is a dramatic reduction in federal cost-sharing from years past.

…According to the American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) annual Infrastructure Report Card, the United States needs to invest $4.59 trillion by 2025 in order to improve the country’s infrastructure — a figure three times larger than even the rosiest estimate in Trump’s proposal and more than 20 times larger than the $200 billion actually allocated.”

Larry I. Willis, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD) said “plan undermine the diverse needs of our transportation network” in his statement:

“We have long called for America’s infrastructure crisis to be met with a massive infusion of new federal investment that will grow the economy and create good, middle-class jobs. While we appreciate the spotlight President Trump has shined on the need to rebuild America, too many aspects of this plan undermine the diverse needs of our transportation network and the businesses, communities, and working families that depend on it.

“Robbing other federal priorities — including important transportation programs — to pay for infrastructure will only add to our growing problems. Furthermore, devolving the federal government’s funding responsibility to cash-strapped states and municipalities will leave too many projects and jobs behind.

“Congress now has an opportunity to craft a bipartisan proposal that will rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, fuel a new wave of middle-class job creation, and bolster the American economy in a way that works for everyone. Getting there will require robust federal investment, stabilizing the Highway Trust Fund for surface transportation needs and prioritizing Buy America rules and longstanding labor protections that support good jobs and raise wages.

“Creating an infrastructure network capable of supporting a 21st-Century economy requires real federal commitment. It is now time for Congress to take the lead and we stand ready to support that effort.” 

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka also released a statement on Trump’s infrastructure plan: 

According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, our country’s grade on infrastructure is a D-plus. The infrastructure we use hundreds of millions of times each day is literally crumbling after decades of neglect. Our cars drive on broken roads, our children cross failing bridges, our loved ones ride on unsafe rail, our outdated electrical grids waste incredible amounts of power all while working people pay the cost of inaction.

President Trump has rightly noted the urgency and scale of America’s infrastructure crisis, and he has an opportunity to fix it. Unfortunately, today’s proposal relies more on accounting gimmicks and Wall Street investors than on a new federal commitment, which leaves states and municipalities to pick up the tab.

The right infrastructure plan will lift our communities and drive our economy forward for generations to come. That’s why this issue is so important and why the AFL-CIO and our affiliates are working actively with Congress to craft legislation that achieves these goals in a bipartisan way. If our nation’s leaders are serious about building America, they need to step up with trillions of dollars in new federal funding that supports America’s jobs, America’s resources and America’s products. And they need to uphold high labor standards and good wages and protect working people on the job. If they do, we have the most highly skilled and well-trained workforce ready to get the job done.

Well known economist, Robert Reich, posted a short video about the new infrastructure plan calling it a “huge tax giveaway for the rich.”  He warns that we would be turning over our public roads and bridges to private corporations who will install new fees and tolls.

This afternoon the Washington Post reports that President Trump is looking to “divest” in government assets and privatize government services. He is even proposing selling off, Washington National Airport (DCA) and Dulles International (IAD).

“The Washington region’s George Washington Memorial Parkway and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, both run by the National Park Service, are listed as “examples of assets for potential divestiture.” It was not immediately clear what public or private entity might buy those roads, whether they might be tolled, or other details. Same with the two airports in Virginia, which are leased from the federal government.

…Efforts to privatize federal assets were discussed early in the administration by Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, National Economic Council director Gary Cohn and other advisers as a preferred way to come up with capital for much needed improvements.

A high-profile Trump effort to move the nation’s air traffic control system out of government hands was blocked in Congress.”

Even the fiscal conservative group, The Concord Coalition, says the numbers just don’t add up.

The administration is focusing a great deal of attention on its infrastructure plan but counting on most of the money for it to come from state and local governments as well as the private sector. The federal government would provide only $200 billion of the $1.5 trillion spending goal. Yet the budget proposes transportation and other infrastructure cuts of around $200 billion and there is no clear, credible explanation of this juxtaposition or how any new infrastructure spending would be financed.

Trump says he is open to the possibility of raising the federal gas tax, which has not been done since 1993. This would be a reasonable step. But just hinting at such an increase is not enough; the president should show real leadership by calling on Congress to approve a specific gas tax hike.

No matter how you slice it, this infrastructure plan stinks. If it goes through, the public will be forced to cough up more money to fix the roads and bridges, but that money will go right into the pockets of the executives of the billion dollar corporations who have bought up all of our public roadways.

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The New Hampshire Labor News is a group of NH Workers who believe that we need to protect ourselves against the attacks on workers. We are proud union members who are working to preserve the middle class. The NHLN talks mostly about news and politics from NH. We also talk about national issues that effect working men and women here in the Granite State.
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