By Rex Nutting, MarketWatch
Getty ImagesAmerica’s infrastructure is inadequate, but Washington isn’t supplying any more money than it did in the 1950s.
President Donald Trump seems to have given up on the most promising promise he made in last year’s presidential election campaign: rebuilding America’s infrastructure.
Since his election, Trump has given some lip service to the idea of investing more in roads, bridges, ports, tunnels, airports, water and sewer systems, the electrical grid, and other infrastructure that can help make the American economy run more efficiently.
Every once in a while, Trump remembers to tweet about infrastructure, but the issue has clearly fallen down the to-do list, as the New York Times reported.
The Hill reported that Republican lawmakers believe the infrastructure push will have to wait until Congress finishes dismantling health care and cutting taxes. Putting infrastructure off until 2018 could be tricky because enacting major legislation during an election year has proven almost impossible.
Even though the economy is about six times larger than it was in 1955, we are actually investing no more in our critical infrastructure today than our grandparents were.
Trump campaigned on investing $1 trillion in infrastructure, but that figure represents total spending over 10 years, and it includes $800 billion in private-sector money leveraging federal tax incentives. Trump has penciled in $200 billion for federal spending in his 10-year budget, but the Congressional Budget Office concluded that infrastructure investments probably wouldn’t increase at all under Trump’s plan, because the $200 billion isn’t on top of what’s already planned, but instead of.
Trump isn’t offering any additional money at all. Trump hasn’t developed anything close to a plan to actually increase the level of investment.
It’s a big mistake, because the right kind of investments could put people to work now and make the economy more productive in the future. One study estimated that advanced economies like the U.S.’s could see up to a 1.4-percentage-point bump to gross domestic product with the right kind of infrastructure investments. Inefficient investments, on the other hand, don’t add to productivity at all.
Focusing on infrastructure would have economic benefits, but it could have a political payoff as well: Trump could conceivably break out of the toxic and unproductive partisanship that’s consuming all of the energy in Washington.
Infrastructure, done right, is the perfect bipartisan issue. It could begin to heal our politics as well as our economy. It wouldn’t be simple to get the two parties to agree on infrastructure (especially about the key questions of financing and control ), but it would vastly easier than agreeing about health care, tax cuts or building a wall on the border with Mexico.
Since 2009, Republicans have turned “shovel ready” into a kind of epithet. But now that Barack Obama is no longer in the White House, Republicans might warm up to the idea of spending some federal money sprucing up the country.
“It would give him a win on an important agenda item for him,” Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine told the New York Times. “It would have been better received by Democrats, Congress and, frankly, citizens across the country.”>Click to Play
Trump Pushes GOP for Affordable Care Act Repeal
President Donald Trump urged Republican senators in a statement at the White House Monday to keep their campaign promises to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Photo: Michael Reynolds/European Pressphoto Agency
However, the Trump administration has simply been too busy dismantling, deregulating, deporting and dissembling to think about building bridges, real or metaphorical.
You know an idea is dead in Washington when a commission is created to study something that’s already been studied to death.
Source : http://www.marketwatch.com/(S(rnrsydaynixa5x55oiibxm45))/story/eisenhower-built-more-infrastructure-than-trump-ever-will-2017-07-25