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Bridgegate Pt. II

POP QUIZ: What grade does America get in the subject of infrastructure?

Well, according to The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), it's a D+ for us! Our infrastructure situation is so bad that even Trump knows it.

But come on, teach! We have sooooo many...roads and things. We built every single one with...materials and such! Unfortunately, the ASCE's D+ rating means that a lot of the country's public works are in less than ideal condition and at risk of failure. Here's a fun graph for more detail:

infrastructure

Well didn't Trump just release a plan to fix this?

Ah, yes. Trump to the rescue! Sir Cheeto released his infrastructure plan on Monday, and much like him, it relies heavily on magical thinking. $200 billion in Trump's plan comes from direct federal spending, but the rest is supposed to come from state and local governments. They are somehow expected to match the federal allocation four-to-one ratio. This is...unusual to say the least. Typically the federal government covers a significant amount of the cost of major infrastructure projects.

Trump's plan also calls for:

  • Streamlining the process to get federal permits (Trump loves "removing regulatory red tape.") Currently the process can take 5-10, and Trump wants to get it down to 1-2 years. Many are afraid this will be used to avoid environmental regulations, which account for much of the permitting hold-up.
  • Creating a fund to repair public lands using money generated form "mineral and energy development on federal lands and waters." Code for: drill, baby, drill! Drill everywhere!
  • Limiting legal actions over environmental concerns related to infrastructure projects.

How was the plan received?

To begin, no one actually expects Congress to pass this. There are disagreements over how to pay for it, a busy legislative calendar, midterms, blah blah blah. That said, people are worried about whether this plan actually addresses our infrastructure needs.

Rather than creating new sources of revenue to fund investment, the White House calls for cutting funding to transportation programs like as Amtrak. (You know, the old fund infrastructure by cutting other infrastructure plan?) The Center for American progress has counted $281 billion in infrastructure cuts in Trump's budget. Many are also worried about the plan's negative impact on the environment, and Republicans are worried about the effects of yet another law that adds to the deficit.

Most concerningly, this plan would place a major burden on state and local officials to find revenue, and many are worried that investments from private investors are all they will find. That means that only projects that generate revenue (tolls, airports, etc) will get updates - everything else will keep crumbling.

Looks like that D+ will be staying for a while.