by Joseph Coletti
Senior Fellow, Fiscal Studies, John Locke Foundation
President Trump’s budget acknowledges that the federal government cannot provide money for everything, but then increases federal spending in some areas and anticipates states, localities, and the private sector will provide even more money. Nowhere is this more visible than in the president’s plan for infrastructure.
The plan reverses the existing financial model for road projects so the federal government puts up just $200 billion of a proposed $1.5 trillion in total spending. New private funding will be a significant factor in deciding which projects get federal approval.
A bigger change, as Aaron Renn explains at City Journal, is in speeding the approval process:
Trump wants to reduce significantly the federal approval timeline—from eight or more years for major projects down to two years, using a “one agency, one decision” approach. The lengthy permitting process is one reason that the Obama administration’s 2009 stimulus failed to deliver much long-term value—there simply weren’t enough high-quality, shovel-ready projects to spend it on. The Obama administration itself tried to chip away at a process that makes it difficult to implement infrastructure projects, but it made limited progress. History suggests that President Trump will also find it tough to streamline the regulatory red tape….
But while the political prospects for a deal may be uncertain, the administration has at least put a proposal on the table that lives up to one of the president’s promises: it is a departure from business as usual in Washington.