On the campaign trail, Trump had spoken often about the importance of investing in infrastructure. Yet the president-elect had apparently failed to appreciate that the government would need to come up with hundreds of billions of dollars to fund his plans. Cohn, brash and bold, wired to attack any moneymaking opportunity, pitched a fix that would put Wall Street firms at the center: Private-industry partners could help infrastructure get fixed, saving the federal government from going deeper into debt.
Ten days before Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the Texas coast, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to speed up the pipeline for federal infrastructure projects. One component of that Aug. 15 order? Eliminating an Obama-era rule called the federal flood risk management standard that asked agencies to account for climate change projections when they approved projects. That drew condemnation from an odd coalition of scientists, civil engineers, and fiscal conservatives concerned about reversion to the old ways: pouring money into projects that would soon be washed away.
Reich explains that rather than coming up with the necessary money to fund these massive infrastructure plans by making the wealthy pay their fair share, Trump’s plan offers tax breaks for the rich to encourage them to invest. “Which means that for every dollar they put into a project, they are actually paying only 18 cents – and we are paying the other 82 cents through our tax dollars.”
After seven years of fitful declines, the federal budget deficit is projected to begin swelling again, adding nearly $10 trillion to the federal debt over the next 10 years, according to projections from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office that reveal the strain that government debt will have on the economy as President Trump embarks on plans to slash taxes and ramp up spending.
At first, Sen. Bernie Sanders’s tone with Donald Trump was conciliatory: “To the degree that Mr. Trump is serious about pursuing policies that improve the lives of working families in this country, I and other progressives are prepared to work with him,” he said in a statement after Election Day. Then he saw Trump’s infrastructure plan. Sanders’s tone changed; he tweeted that the president-elect’s plan for infrastructure is a “scam,” proving just how difficult working with a Trump administration will be in practice: