Can Schumer And Trump Hammer Out A Bipartisan Infrastructure Approach While McConnell And Ryan Jeer From The Sidelines?
Trump gave us a glimpse of his idea of infrastructure yesterday when he signed executive orders to re-start the approval process for the Keystone XL Pipeline, for the Dakota pipeline, to rush through environmental reviews and to reduce regulations. Trump touted the Keystone XL as a job creator, although he didn't mention that it will create only 35 or so permanent jobs. This is no way to get a serious infrastructure initiative off the ground. Congressional Democrats are eager to work with him on implementing an infrastructure plan that make sense and, in fact, yesterday's NY Times reported on their trillion dollar proposal, a proposal they are hopeful Trump will embrace. Schumer, who voted with the Republicans Monday night to confirm Trump's horrific nominee to head the CIA, Mike Pompeo, was happy to pontificate a few hours later: "From our largest cities to our smallest towns, communities across the country are struggling to meet the challenges of aging infrastructure. Our urban and rural communities have their own unique set of infrastructure priorities, and this proposal would provide funding to address those needed upgrades that go beyond the traditional road and bridge repair... We’re asking President Trump to work with us to make it a reality."
Republicans resisted President Barack Obama’s push for an infrastructure “surge” for eight years, arguing that the federal government couldn’t afford it and that state and local governments should shoulder more responsibility for improvements. But Mr. Trump has taken up the Democratic cause.The bill that Schumer unveiled yesterday spreads the trillion dollars out over 10 years to repair bridges and roads, expand and improve public transport and port facilities and modernize the electrical grid, airports, schools, sewer systems, etc. Democrats want to spend public money to accomplish these goals while Trump's advisors want to offer corporations billions in tax breaks to do the work. His plan, for example, abandons the idea of free roads and bridges and allows private companies to build tollways instead. It's the polar opposite of what Eisenhower accomplished with the highway system but it's what Pence, Ryan, McConnell and Trump's reactionary cabinet are all pushing for.
“We will build new roads, and highways, and bridges, and airports, and tunnels, and railways all across our wonderful nation,” he vowed in his Inaugural Address.
The plan dedicates $180 billion to rail and bus systems, $65 billion to ports, airports and waterways, $110 billion for water and sewer systems, $100 billion for energy infrastructure, and $20 billion for public and tribal lands.
Late yesterday Elizabeth Warren told her supporters that "Democrats have proposed a new infrastructure blueprint that would create over 15 million jobs and rebuild our crumbling infrastructure-- including through investments in clean energy and modernizing our electric grid-- and we welcome President Trump and congressional Republicans to join us to create jobs now and to build a future that makes the US more competitive. But instead, President Trump today issued executive orders to advance construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, pitting hardworking Americans against our climate and the protection of tribal lands. The Obama Administration rejected the Keystone XL Pipeline in part because it would 'undermine our ability to continue leading the world in combatting climate change.' And just last week, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers took steps to prepare a new Environmental Impact Statement for the Dakota pipeline with 'full public input and analysis.' The impact of these pipelines on our environment, and on the communities they cut through, did not change when President Obama left office. President Trump's announcement today moves us in the wrong direction for our environment and our economy."
The immediate common ground between Trump and the Democrats is the Buy American concept both embrace for infrastructure building. While Ryan and McConnell have been busy removing Buy American provisions from spending bills, the Democrats say they are sticking to their guns on this and Trump (at least so far) claims he favors Buy American provisions as well. He can probably easily force Ryan and McConnell to back down. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) sent Trump a letter explaining what getting serious about Buy American means. The letter outlines his vision for accountability when it comes to federal spending, asking for a watchdog, regular audits, and limits on waivers all related to the Buy American provisions.
The problem is that McConnell and Ryan oppose using taxes to build or improve infrastructure and that Trump wants to do it as for-profit boondoggles to enrich developers. " Schumer said that "During his campaign, President Trump talked often about a big and bold infrastructure package. Well, this is one of the most comprehensive overhaul proposals in a generation, and we’re challenging President Trump to work with us on this broad plan that will sustain our positive economic growth, create millions of jobs, and build a modern economy." My guess is that Trump would be willing to make a deal with Schumer and it will be certainly interesting to see what these two crooks come up with that the congressional Republicans will back. By the way, Democrats estimate their plan would create 15 million jobs. Here's the view from the crackpot dogmatic right: