We must examine the Trump infrastructure plan.
At first, it sounds, well, pretty good. And then you get the details.
First, why do you think Trump is proposing an infrastructure plan? Is it because he really wants to put people to work? That is dubious. If he did, he would have brought into his circle the leaders of ASCE. That’s the American Society of Civil Engineers. They would have had some say in Trump’s plan. We know that they have been screaming at the top of their lungs that we need to get on with saving the 60 important bridges that desperately need repair or the other roads and streets and water and sewer work that is so backed up that it will cost $3.7 trillions to restore. According to ASCE, that also gives us their “F” rating. We are 9th or 10th in the world in infrastructure.
While Europe is advancing, we have counties in Texas that would rather, and now will, go back to dirt roads rather than tax the oil companies who take oil for private profit and then leave the roads damaged and in need of repair. People in Europe can routinely travel at a pace that would get them from St. Louis to Chicago in less than two hours or from Los Angeles to San Francisco in a little over 2 hours…almost commuting time. European highways are so well engineered and maintained that average drivers routinely drive at speeds of 140 miles an hour in the fast lanes.
The first thing we need to do with the Trump plan is correct the errors. The writers of the Trump plan say that President Obama did virtually nothing to address the problem. That is wrong. He proposed spending about $500 billion to improve the infrastructure. Congress finally did, in late 2015, send him a bill to sign…for $300 billion, not $500 billion. That is the problem. An obstructive Republican Congress. Their endless debate over the Import-Export Bank stalled and reduced the amount of the plan…as they did with all proposals that President Obama sent to them.
The Trump plan is basically a campaign document, indicting the federal government for things like the toxic water in Flint, Michigan, which was pretty clearly defined as a problem (still is) of the Governor and his assigned (not voted in) manager of Flint’s resources. It was his decision that poisoned the water…to save money that would help protect Governor Snyder’s heavy tax cuts for millionaires.
This document may not be serious at all. As they list statistic after statistic that we already know about the infrastructure, they toss in some propaganda. Like this: “Over the last eight years, the Obama-Clinton administration has doubled our national debt from $10 trillion to almost $20 trillion. Yet despite this massive deficit spending, less and less of it has been going into our infrastructure.” The Clinton is Hillary and it was hardly the Obama-Clinton administration. She was traveling to something like 180 countries around the world.
Let’s briefly point out that, first, the debt was already $12 trillion, not $10 trillion when President Obama took over and it is now somewhere over $18 trillion, not $20 trillion. (Little Trump mistakes…a trillion here, a trillion there.) Second, in the first three years, the Bush Depression, started in 2008, left President Obama with a deficit of $1.4 trillion in 2009, $1.1 trillion in 2010 and $1.0 trillion in 2011. In 2012, the economy that was still foreclosing on a million homes a year, began to pick up and yet there was a smaller deficit, and it continued to decrease until it was down to $486 billion and dropping in 2015. So the idea, the lie, that President Obama willfully increased the debt is not only not true, it is venal and ridiculous and totally inaccurate. He inherited an economy in which jobs were being lost at a rate of 180,000–a week!
After all the campaign rhetoric, we finally get to the meat of the proposal. And yet, it is less meat than gravy. “For infrastructure construction to be financeable privately, it needs a revenue stream from which to pay operating costs, the interest and principal on the debt, and the dividends on the equity.” Where’s the beef? We know the gravy comes in the form of profits for the financiers. We can imagine the rates they will charge to the municipalities and states. So the question becomes this: What rates will the People really be charged by the Wall Street financiers who cheated them so badly only 8 years ago? After the interest rates, what kind of annual revenue will the money men want in return. Given what happened to Americans in 2008 (I’ll remind you. You lost $7.5 trillion in personal wealth…savings, 401Ks, equity in homes) do you want to trust Wall Street with owning your roads and tunnels and bridges? And water systems? The Nestle Corporation has made it clear that it feels it has the right to buy up municipal water systems and charge you any damned rate they please. They say it is their right under the constitution.
It continues….” financing a trillion dollars of infrastructure would necessitate an equity investment of $167 billion, obviously a daunting sum. — We also assume that the interest rate in today’s markets will be 4.5% to 5.0% with constant total monthly payments of principal and interest over a 20- to 30-year period. The equity will require a payment stream equivalent to as much as a 9% to 10% rate of return over the same time periods. To encourage investors to commit such large amounts, and to reduce the cost of the financing, government would provide a tax credit equal to 82% of the equity amount.”
Right after they criticize President Obama, they get right into the money, honey. Show us the money. It is, after all, not about the people. And certainly not about the jobs…that doesn’t show up anywhere yet. Only how they are going to make money. Because, believe me, that is what this is all about. Do you think that they are going to go along with union workers in a Republican controlled House and Senate appropriation, with a President who doesn’t like workers at all, let alone union workers, and a Vice President who hates unions? And minimum wages? Please. Have you seen the kinds of workers doing construction work these days? They are right off the boat from Mexico, not in a union, with little leverage and no skills. Somehow, these vulnerable people, the ones who don’t make it to Trump’s giant airplanes flying them back to wherever, the ones the Republicans will now need to keep here….these will be the ones hired to do the jobs. That’s OK. They need jobs and steady jobs. But if you think that the coal workers are going to end up building roads in Kentucky and West Virginia, your pipe dream needs a new pipe.
And of course, sitting back and watching les miserables in all the poor states or in all the miserable poor neighborhoods of rich states will be the Koch Brothers. They and their billionaire friends pull all the strings, by funding ALEC, the State Policy Network, the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, the Hudson Institute, the Hoover Institute, the Manhattan Institute, Americans for Prosperity, FreedomWorks, Americans for Tax Reform, American Energy Alliance, the Club for Growth, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, Reason magazine, and hundreds of Right Wing radio programs like Rush Limbaugh, ($40 million a year for his propaganda), Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Mark Levin, Oliver North, Michael Medved, Ann Coulter, Michael Savage, and many, many other, lesser wannabees who simply listen to what the big boys say, get the talking points and then rattle on day after day after day. They have been attacking Hillary Clinton for the last 20 years, constantly, every day, because those billionaires, and the CEOs taking home, annually, 500 times what you make, and the Texas oilmen, proven racists, chauvinists and American Neo-Fascists all knew that one day they would face her in an election. They lied about her for 20 years and were able to simultaneously rig the elections state by state, until, even with 2 million more votes than the disgusting Trump, she could not win.
They already own 33 state governors, 24 state legislatures…lock, stock and barrel. The money from Comcast and AT&T and EXXON/Mobil and BP and Kraft and Coke and Boeing and the national association of bail bondsmen and the private prison lobby and the NRA….and now, Trump, his cabinet, the Republican Congress whose campaigns are funded by these organizations (whom do you think they think about….you or these organizations who bring them millions?) and soon a Right Wing, Conservative, and I think, Neo-Fascist Supreme Court will sign off on any bills they bring. It is corruption from bottom to top.
It may, indeed, have been more than just an election we lost. We may have set ourselves on a path to lose Democracy. If so, we are all lost….and we, this generation of Americans, did it. We may have lost the entire reason that our Founding Fathers came here. We may have turned the country over to plutocrats, an aristocracy of money.
Only time will tell if we did. If so, shame on us.