Trump Administration Introduces Controversial Infrastructure Plan
On Monday, the White House released President Donald Trump’s $200 billion plan to rebuild and revitalize the nation’s infrastructure. The newly released initiative is focused around spurring widespread investment in infrastructure by local and state government through decreased regulations, federal funding, and incentives for the private sector.
The introduction of a federal infrastructure program has been heavily anticipated by members of congress since the beginning of the Trump Presidency, as it was meant to be a chance for bipartisan cooperation. To the dismay of members of both parties, the Trump administration's plan seems to please none.
A key factor leading to this unhappiness is the lack of actual funding introduced by the proposal. The plan declares that the goal of the program is to invest 1.5 trillion dollars into infrastructure, but the federal government only is providing 200 billion dollars to do so. The rest of the money is meant to come from regional and statewide governments, as well as investment by private corporations. With such a large disparity between the actual funding provided and the target goal, experts fear that no meaningful progress will actually be made in fixing the nation.
Currently, the largest ambiguity in the plan is where the White House plans to acquire the $200 billion in funding. Nowhere in the plan does it specify where the money will come from. However, speculations that the Trump Administration plans to raise the per gallon gas tax by 25 cents were confirmed last Wednesday when Transportation Secretary Elaine Chow stated in a press briefing that, "The President has not declared anything out of bounds, so everything is on the table. The gas tax, like many of the other pay-fors that are being discussed, is not ideal."
Neither side of the isle in Congress has responded to the deal with much enthusiasm. Democrats, as predicted, felt that Trump’s plan did not go far enough. They criticized the lack of concrete funding as well as the rollback of environmental protection measures in the plan. Democrat Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) declared that the proposition, “expects cash-strapped states to drive most of the progress on 1/8th of a tank of gas. We need $1 trillion in direct federal spending to rebuild our infrastructure.”
President Trump has been counting on Republicans for support in order to pass the new infrastructure deal. However, they too have had mixed reactions. Some, like Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI), voiced their support for the proposal, “This budget lays out a thoughtful, detailed, and responsible blueprint for achieving our shared agenda." As House Speaker, the cooperation of Mr. Ryan is essential for the passage of any infrastructure bill, and his support is a positive sign for the White House. However, many other Republican lawmakers were not as enthusiastic. Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) criticized the proposed bill by stating, “The fact we’re this far into the revenue and tax discussion without a revenue stream is troublesome.”
A lack of complete information, combined with wavering support from lawmakers, has put a plan that was meant to bring an easy success to the President in an uncertain place. The infrastructure proposal has not formerly been introduced by a member of Congress, and is merely in the early stages of development. Nevertheless, President Trump faces an uphill battle to implement bipartisan infrastructure legislation in the coming months.