“It will be as exciting as the 1930s.”
That is what Donald Trump's chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon said about the incoming administration’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan. “With negative interest rates throughout the world,” he argued, “it’s the greatest opportunity to rebuild everything” from “shipyards” to “iron works” and just “throw it up against the wall and see if it sticks.”
He has a point. Well, not about the 1930s being particularly exhilarating or the need for new iron works per se. But it is a good time to invest in infrastructure. These are things we’re going to have to spend money on eventually, so why not spend on them when our borrowing costs are as low as can be? That would actually save money in the long-term. Which is why President Obama has been trying to get Congress to pass his own infrastructure bank for five years now. Republicans, though, have said no...
Infrastructure hasn't been high on their list. But if they think this is the price they have to pay for Trump's support for the rest of their agenda, it isn't hard to imagine them at least letting it come up for a vote.
And like that, rebuilding our roads, bridges, schools, airports, water systems, and electrical grids will go from being Obama’s unaffordable socialism to Trump's prudent conservatism.
Trump, you see, doesn’t want the government to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure. Instead, he wants the government to give corporations $187 billion worth of tax breaks to try to get them to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure. The problem with that, as former Obama and Clinton official Ronald Klain points out, is that there’s no guarantee these tax breaks would get companies to build infrastructure they weren’t already going to build, and no way to get them to build infrastructure where it’s needed the most but isn’t the most profitable.
In other words, Trump's plan might mostly help rich investors make money off infrastructure, and rich communities get infrastructure they were already going to....