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Friday, January 18, 2019

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.
By 
CRAIG HARRINGTON & ALEX MORASH

 

The White House’s rollout of its so-called “infrastructure week” agenda demonstrated once again that President Donald Trump and his staff are interested in policy discussions only insofar as they can generate short-term media narratives. The infrastructure scheme that the Trump team is pushing falls far short of the substantive approach necessary to address America’s infrastructure needs and stands in stark contrast to plans outlined by progressive advocates. The Trump plan seems designed to curry headlines rather than spur a serious media conversation about infrastructure.

On June 5, the White House released a vague six-page infrastructure outline touting the Trump administration’s goal to invest “at least $1 trillion in total infrastructure spending” over the next decade along with numerous other initiatives. A close reading of the plan, coupled with the White House’s budget request for the 2018 fiscal year, shows that it is not actually a plan to invest $1 trillion in our nation’s roads, bridges, and other vital infrastructure. Instead, it is a proposed $200 billion tax giveaway to developers and construction contractors, which the administration hopes would spur additional private sector investment of up to $1 trillion.

Aside from a controversial side project that would break up and privatize the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) air traffic control systems, which has encountered pushback from both the head of the FAA and from Trump’s own transportation secretary, the Trump infrastructure agenda included few specific policies. Most major media outlets saw the “infrastructure week” gambit for what it was, a transparent attempt to distractmedia attention away from the looming congressional testimony of former FBI Director James Comey.

This isn’t the first time the Trump administration has hastily rolled out an incomplete economic agenda in hopes of distracting the press from the challenges it’s facing. In late April, as the administration neared its 100th day in office with no major legislative accomplishments, the White House rolled out a comically incomplete one-page tax plan that was pilloried in the press. The plan called for “a radical reordering” of tax policy that The New York Times projected “would significantly benefit the wealthy.” The hastily drafted tax plan was described as “a frantic last push” for a policy victory after what media observers had dubbed “100 days of failure.”

By all accounts, the White House’s head fake on infrastructure failed, in part because the president couldn’t keep himself on message. But the attempt to again use vitally important domestic policy debates as a ploy to manipulate media attention underlines a telling problem with the Trump White House. The administration’s approach to economic policy seems to be little more than a media game — a shame given the extent of necessary investments and reforms needed nationwide.

According to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the United States faces a $2 trillion spending shortfall over the next decade to make necessary upgrades to its D+ rated infrastructure. The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) has a plan to make precisely those investments, and another plan floated earlier this year by Senate Democrats would bridge at least part of the funding gap. By comparison, the White House’s contribution to this substantive infrastructure debate is a flimsy and exaggerated series of tax cuts and controversial public-private partnerships that bear a closer resemblance to trickle-down economics than to infrastructure policy.

The “infrastructure week” gimmick failed to create the headlines the administration wanted, and the White House has reportedly put little effort into turning its agenda into viable legislation. Millions of Americans stand to benefit from actual investments in public infrastructure, and those millions of people deserve more from the White House than fleeting attempts to gin up good press.

 

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5 responses to “Trump’s “Infrastructure Week” Scheme Was Another Media Fake Out”

  1. FireBaron says:

    So, Teflon Donnie’s plan is to turn over the infrastructure to private enterprises. Well, it used to work for the Railroads before the Federal Government took them over. It does work for the quasi-public organizations set up by some states to maintain their interstate highway system. But so far, every private company that has been allowed to take over operation of infrastructure systems has managed only to jack up tolls and not provide the maintenance needed to keep the roads safe and operational.
    As for allowing the airlines to take over the ATC system, well, I would like to say that will be a nightmare, but that would be mild in comparison. I can see it now – private regional carriers being limited to only providing service at specific times; the “big boys” squeezing out the low cost carriers; the sudden realization that the ATC equipment is close to 40 years out of date and anyone who knows anything about their operating systems now owns an island in the South Pacific. Yep. That’s gonna be one big mess.

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  2. Dominick Vila says:

    Trump’s infrastructure plan is based, once again, on what he “hopes” will happen rather than a tangible proposal designed to modernize our infrastructure. Most of the $1T that he proposes involves investment by State governments and private enterprise. The remainder, $200B, involves tax breaks to private contractors working on infrastructure projects. More smoke and mirrors by a master in make believe. The only positive thing I can say is that he understands the gullibility of his audience a lot better than most Democrats do. Optics and a few patriotic slogans is enough to convince his base, and he knows it.

  3. cthetruth says:

    Another scheme,just like Trump’s entire life. When are people going to wake up to this self-serving con artist.Prison is too good for him.

  4. apzzyk says:

    It is even worse that that. The taxpayers $200, will just be a subsidy to the private sector which wants to make our now freeways into toll ways, which will mean that everything we need, such as food, will cost us more because the cost of the tolls will just be passed on to the consumer, so it would actually be less expensive to the taxpayers to fully fund the infrastructure maintenance and improvments in the first place, even if that requires increases in taxes. An example of this is US 36 between Denver and Boulder CO. The State had the tax revenue to add the 3rd lane but could not do that because of an Archaic state constitutional amendment that came from about 1972, which limits the amount that governments can spend regardless of needs, so in order to do this addition, the state had to let the private sector build the extra lanes and charge tolls on the use of these needed lanes, with the tolls reaching about $1.00 per mile during rush hours, which are now almost 24 hours a day. These are also known as the rich guys lanes, because they are primarily used by those who can pass along their costs to the other taxpayers. This dis not reduce the congestion, but just shoved it off of the was been Freeway onto side roads which were not built to handle the traffic, so+They have deteriorated to the pont where there are actually stacks of hubcaps due to pot holes in some places. We really need far more than the $1 Trillion mentioned; the new tunnel to replace the century old ones under the Hudson that carries Amtrack, will cost about half of that, and when Sandy flooded these, it cost the US economy about $20 Billion a day.
    Has any one got the word that there is only so much profit to be made – profit made by the toll roads will not be made by other places.

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