When it comes to new infrastructure projects, Senate Democrats are looking to call President Trump’s bluff on the matter.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, President Donald Trump ran on the promise that he would invest significantly in infrastructure reform if he were to become president.
Everyone generally agrees that investment in a nation’s infrastructure is a smart move. Everyone also agrees that many of the infrastructure systems in the US desperately needs to be either modernized or repaired. What everyone can’t agree on however, is how that should be done. That is where Democrats and Republicans generally disagree in terms of infrastructure spending.
Senate Democrats this week introduced their infrastructure plan. What’s in it? Let’s take a look with our 10-Point Expert!
Point 1: The basics of the Senate Democrats’ infrastructure plan – which was introduced by New York Senator Chuck Schumer on Tuesday – involves spending $1 trillion on rebuilding infrastructure projects over the next ten years. Specifically, the Democrats’ infrastructure projects would include, improving (or rebuilding) highways, school buildings, bridges, electric grids, rail systems, and ect.
Point 2: While expensive, this infrastructure plan is a bit different from their past iterations. The most significant difference is that it focuses on repairing/improving on existing infrastructure models rather than building new ones. The hope is to appease critics who claim that new infrastructure projects are a waste of federal dollars, when there are existing projects in the US that desperately need of repair.
Point 3: That however doesn’t mean it isn’t an ambitious infrastructure plan. Over $400 billion would be allocated to various programs which include TIGER grants (federal money sent to cities trying to solve environmental issues through transportation) and the Vital Infrastructure Projects Program (an initiative that directs federal aid to the most vital of national projects) just to name a few. However, Republicans historically have been against these type of programs due to their high cost and uncertain success rates.
Point 4: Another interesting wrinkle in the Democrats’ infrastructure plan includes the creation of “I-Bank”, which would serve as a new finance entity for infrastructure projects. Basically, it would act as a low cost lender for organizations looking to access capitol for various infrastructure projects.
Point 5: On how Democrats plan on paying for the $1 trillion infrastructure plan is still unclear. Though in the past, Democrats have pushed for corporate tax reform to pay for infrastructure projects. Still, $1 trillion is still a lot of money, even when you consider the enormity of infrastructure projects.
Point 6: At its core, the Democrats’ infrastructure plan is a fairly traditional one that focuses on giving states federal funds to work on various public works projects, even if you consider the ambitious $1 trillion price tag. Traditionally, these are the types of infrastructure plans Congressional Republicans loath due to the increase in spending by the federal government.
Point 7: Critics of the Democrats’ infrastructure plan worry about the cost not exactly paying off down the line. Their argument is that with such a high investment in infrastructure, there are projects bound to go nowhere or be wasted all together.
Point 8: In contrast, President Trump’s infrastructure plan – which he talked about during his presidential campaign – wants to focus $137 billion in tax breaks to private investors that would finance self-funding projects like toll roads and tollways. Critics of President Trump’s infrastructure plan have pointed out that very few infrastructure projects would meet such criteria. Another fear would be that infrastructure projects in poorer communities – like modernizing bus services – would also be ignored in the president’s infrastructure plan.
Point 9: Yet while President Trump has said investments to infrastructure would be his top priority as president, Republicans have been on record in saying otherwise. For many in the GOP, the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) and rewriting parts of the Tax Code would be higher priorities on their legislative agendas.
Point 10: Thus, that leaves President Trump to deal with the Democrats if he wants to get anything done regarding investments to infrastructure! So while the Democrats’ infrastructure plan may seem ambitious, it’s best to look at it as their opening gambit with the Trump administration. From here, President Trump has one of two choices; (1) work with Democrats in creating an infrastructure bill, which in that case the Democrats just announced their negotiating terms or (2) President Trump completely ignores his campaign promise on improving infrastructure and Democrats just called his bluff! Either options aren’t particularly great for President Trump, we’ll just have to wait and see which way he goes.
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