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Infrastructure Kissy Face: Told Ya So

Photo by Lucas Pires from Pexels

Boy, that didn't take long.

Last Tuesday, President Trump and Congressional Democratic leaders made nice and agreed to work on a $2 trillion (yep, TRILLION) plan to fix America's crumbling roads and bridges and do a bunch of other important stuff all under the heading of "infrastructure."

Here's what I wrote then: It's almost too good to believe. And you know what they say when something seems too good to be probably isn't.

And this: There were also some notable absences at the meeting today. Ever hear of Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans? They weren't in the meeting, but can you see Congressional Republicans supporting a big fat federal gas tax increase to help pay for the infrastructure plan? Really?

Well, here's today's headline in The Washington Post:

Trump’s bipartisan infrastructure plan already imperiled as Mulvaney, GOP lawmakers object to cost.

Hmm. How much of a political genius did it take to predict this would happen?

Writes The Post:

But the initiative has run into immediate opposition from Republicans who balk at the hefty price tag and from conservative allies who are pushing lawmakers to block it. Those opposed to the deal include Trump’s top aide, Mick Mulvaney, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who is not in favor of the spending, according to people who have spoken to him.

You mean to tell me that Trump cut this deal with the Democrats without even discussing it with his chief of staff, Mulvaney, who also happens to be his budget director? And, apparently he blindsided McConnell, or if not, just ignored what old turtle neck had to say.

Oh yea, Trump likes to shoot from the hip, right. And he likes big numbers, too.

More from The Post story:

“Is it difficult to pass any infrastructure bill in this environment, let alone a $2 trillion one, in this environment? Absolutely,” Mulvaney said.

On Saturday morning, the president tweeted: “There is nothing easy about a USA Infrastructure Plan, especially when our great Country has spent an astounding 7 trillion dollars in the Middle East over the last 19 years, but I am looking hard at a bipartisan plan of 1 to 2 trillion dollars. Badly needed!”

The thing is, even increasing the current 18.4 cents per gallon federal gasoline tax to 35 cents would only provide about $500 million over 10 years, so where would the rest of that huge pile of money come from? There's no chance Congressional Republicans would walk back on their treasured tax reform act they passed last year, which slashed the corporate income tax and provided other goodies for businesses and the wealthy.

Since 1993, the the gas tax rates and the 24.4 cents per gallon diesel fuel tax have remained unchanged. Finding the remaining $1.5 trillion would necessitate more significant tax increases, but even fully reversing the corporate income tax cut, which dropped the rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, would not close the gap. More toll roads could be in our future, but even that won't do it.

So reality has set in along the Potomac and once again Trump's pie-in-the-sky promises are turning to dust. This time, infrastructure dust.

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