Trump infrastructure plan faces uncertain future among Republicans

Trump infrastructure plan faces uncertain future among Republicans 

Posted: 8:41 pm Friday, December 30th, 2016

By Jamie Dupree

While one might expect a number of Democrats in the Congress to routinely oppose proposals of President-Elect Donald Trump, some of his plans to jump start the economy might just run into issues with Republicans in the U.S. House and Senate, many of whom are worried about the size of Mr. Trump’s $1 trillion plan for new roads and bridges.

“I hope we avoid a trillion dollar stimulus,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who led the charge against much smaller plans from President Obama to build new infrastructure.

“Take you back to 2009,” McConnell told reporters, “we borrowed $1 trillion and nobody could find that it did much of anything.”

But while Republicans in Congress are worried about a repeat of the Obama Stimulus, Mr. Trump has been promoting his plan with gusto at his post-election rallies.

“Our infrastructure is going to hell,” Mr. Trump said at an event in Pennsylvania.

Our bridges are deficient, our roads are in disrepair, and our airports are like third world countries,” the President-Elect added.

“And we’re going to build it on time and on budget, not for three times of what it’s supposed to cost,” he said to cheers.

The Trump plan for new roads, bridges and tunnels would not be $1 trillion in direct government spending, but would reportedly involve federal tax incentives being given to private companies – so, it would still represent real money from the U.S. Treasury.

So far, Democrats have left open the possibility of backing a Trump infrastructure plan – as they have long argued such spending will mean creating thousands of new jobs.

But Democrats also remember a number of times when the GOP stood in the way of money for new roads and bridges over the last eight years when it was proposed by a Democrat in the White House – like in 2011, when Republicans blocked a $60 billion package.

For some conservative Republicans, the idea of raising the deficit to spend more money on infrastructure under President Obama was a non-starter. Might that change under a President Trump?

To be honest, we won’t know how individual lawmakers of either party will react until we see actual details, either in a plan from a President Trump, or in bills pushed by Republicans in the House and Senate.

“President-elect Trump has signaled his intention to make infrastructure a priority but the details are not yet known and the details matter enormously,” said Geoff Anderson of the group Smart Growth America.

His group – along with many other organizations – will be waiting to see every little piece of legislative language in the Congress on this and many other issues in the months ahead.

As I was told many years ago by a political observer, “what the big print giveth, the little print taketh away.”

That will be very true of any effort by a Trump Administration to funnel more money to new infrastructure spending.

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