by Sam Hieb
Getting the local angle out of the way, N&R columnist Susan Ladd (surprise) did care for President Trump’s State of the Union speech, adding her own annotations (in bold):
“Together, we can reclaim our building heritage. We will build gleaming new roads, bridges, highways, railways, and waterways across our land. And we will do it with American heart, American hands, and American grit.” (But not necessarily with American steel, as Trump originally promised.)
Ms. Ladd linked this USA Today report that U.S. steel will not be used to build the Keystone pipeline despite Trump’s assurances. Perhaps Ms. Ladd will feel better should the Trump administration place tariffs on imported steel, but I won’t hold my breath.
There’s a reason why I pulled the quote about Trump’s infrastructure plan: the president lost me there. For starters, whatever became of Obama’s $800 billion stimulus plan? Even if it was effective, hard to imagine it’s all gone to hell in the nine years since. But it’s just not me—the Antiplanner also expresses skepticism:
In short, President Trump has fallen for the politician’s fallacy of preferring ribbons over brooms — that is, building new infrastructure rather than maintaining the old. This is underscored by a leaked infrastructure plan that outlines seven different initiatives and programs, none of which is focused on repairing or rehabilitating America’s existing infrastructure.
This country may need some new infrastructure, but mainly it needs to better utilize and take care of the infrastructure it already has. Since politicians seem to be incapable of doing that, and since user-fee-funded infrastructure tends to be far better managed and maintained than politically funded infrastructure, Congress should focus on returning as much infrastructure as possible to funding systems that rely on user fees, not taxes.
Of course Antiplanner takes note of the fascination with high speed trains, which “are pointless when we have planes that can go twice as fast and don’t require hundreds of billions of dollars of supporting infrastructure.” Meanwhile, “our transit systems — especially the most important ones in New York, Chicago, Washington, Boston, and the San Francisco Bay Area — are suffering from overspending on gleaming new transit lines and neglect of the existing ones.”
The president’s plan deserves serious scrutiny from Congress—let;s hope they do their job and provide it. But again…I’m not holding my breath…..