Tuesday, February 28, 2017

They have heard it before


Some of them have probably made similar promises. As the nation's governors return to their states from their meeting in Washington, they have little expectation that there will be any monies for infrastructure repair and replacement from this administration.
President Trump said again Monday that he was preparing to spend big on infrastructure. But even as he spoke, administration officials and congressional leaders were telling governors to expect little new federal investment in roads, bridges, transit systems, dam repairs and other water works.

Instead, the administration and congressional leaders plan to take a more incremental approach of spurring public-private partnerships – such as toll roads – by loosening environmental reviews, removing other red tape and possibly approving new tax credits. While some governors say private projects will provide little help in repairing their aging infrastructure, others say they will be forced to embrace the fiscal reality.

National Governors Association Chairman, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, center, waits for the arrival of President Donald Trump to a meeting of the NGA, Monday, Feb. 27, 2017, at the White House in Washington. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton is at right.
National Governors Association Chairman, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, center, waits for the arrival of President Donald Trump to a meeting of the NGA, Monday, Feb. 27, 2017, at the White House in Washington. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton is at right. Evan Vucci AP
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, said he and Nevada Gov. Ryan Sandoval, a Republican, had recently discussed infrastructure with House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., prior to meetings Sunday and Monday with Trump and his Cabinet members.

“It seemed clear the way they were heading was public-private partnerships,” McAuliffe said in a news conference at the conclusion of the National Governors Association winter meeting here.

With Trump expected to address infrastructure in his speech on Tuesday night, McAuliffe said he saw little prospect of big new public investment. “Until they come up with a dedicated source of funding going forward, it is going to make it difficult,” he said.

On the campaign trail, Trump promised to grow jobs with an infrastructure investment of $1 trillion or more. On Monday, speaking to a group of visiting governors, he seemed to renew that pledge, saying: “Infrastructure. We going to start spending on infrastructure big.”

Yet despite his rhetoric, Trump appears to have little GOP support for a big-money federal jobs program. Ryan is opposed, and Senate Leader Mitch McConnell – a Republican from Kentucky and the spouse of Trump’s transportation secretary, Elaine Chao – has been cool to noncommittal. Both congressional leaders want to cut taxes and reduce federal spending and are philosophically opposed to economic stimulus programs. Former South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, head of the Heritage Foundation, has recently become an influential adviser to Trump, and his organization has been pressing the president to scale back dreams of big federal investment.

Ryan and some other Republicans seem open to using tax credits to spur private infrastructure work. Yet it is not yet clear how Congress would pay for those tax breaks and what process they’d use to select projects deserving of special treatment. Ryan has made clear that infrastructure decisions will need to wait until the spring, after Congress has had a chance to work on health care and tax revisions.
For the last 8 years it couldn't be done because there was a black man in the White House. Despite big talk about setting up their loyal donors to help themselves to the Treasury, it won't be done because there is no way the tightwads are going to do their job and raise the necessary monies for it. And when the important sections of the country start to collapse they will be the first to blame someone else.

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